Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi insisted he would keep close ties with United States and Iran, warning them both away from competing on Iraq’s turf as he reclaims it from the retreating forces of Islamic State and the Kurds, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Abadi said that he wants U.S. forces to remain in Iraq after the last remaining Islamic State-held territories are liberated, pledging to disarm Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militias that refuse to come under his control.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Abadi issued a plea to Washington and Tehran not to involve Iraq in their growing confrontation over Iran’s nuclear deal and missile program, as well as the U.S. threat of renewed sanctions.
“What we are telling everyone, including our Iranian neighbors and the U.S., who have become our friends by supporting us in our fight against Daesh, is that we welcome your support, we would like to work with you, both of you, but please don’t bring your trouble inside Iraq,” Abadi stressed.
Abadi said the U.S. and other Western troops are in Iraq on the government’s invitation and that Baghdad won’t tolerate any hostile action against these coalition forces. “Any attack on them is an attack on Iraq, on the sovereignty of Iraq, the sovereignty of the state,” he said, The Journal adds.
The Iraqi leader also repeated his pledge to secure the Kurdish-controlled border crossing with Turkey, warning Kurdish forces not to fight against Iraqi troops. “Iraq must have a border with Turkey. They should not cut Iraq from Turkey. The Kurds are our citizens. My priority is to protect them, to protect the rest of Iraqis, but I’m sending a powerful message: If you continue to kill Iraqi soldiers you will be held responsible.” Abadi noted.