TEHRAN – Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called on the Iraqi prime minister to expel US forces as Washington continues to seek excuses to remain there after a 16-year devastating presence and hundreds of thousands of lives lost.
“The US goal in Iraq is beyond mere military presence – they are behind long-term interests as well as establishing a government like the military governments that formed after the occupation of Iraq,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi during their meeting in Tehran.
“The Iraqi government must do something [for] the US military to leave Iraq as soon as possible,” he said, quoted by the television channel Press TV.
While Iraqi lawmakers are allegedly discussing a bill that requires the complete withdrawal of the US military, Washington refuses to leave, stating that without its presence, Daesh [commonly known as ISIS] would inevitably re-emerge – and that Iraq is a crucial US resource to “monitor” Iran.
Khamenei warned the Iraqi prime minister to beware of Washington’s true goals. “The US and Saudi rhetoric about Iraq is different from its real intentions,” he said.
“They channeled money, weapons and equipment to Daesh at a time when [the terrorists] occupied Mosul and now, when Iraq defeated Daesh, they are speaking friendly words,” said the Iranian leader.
With the rise of Daesh, the US sent its forces to Iraq, after which they “almost” withdrew their troops in 2011. Meanwhile, Washington plans to maintain about 5,200 military personnel indefinitely in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the US plans to put the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on its list of foreign terrorist organizations on April 8.
Both Tehran and Washington have already accused each other of supporting terrorism and have labeled each other’s actions as “terrorist,” literally or figuratively.
“If the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution are placed on the list of US terrorist groups, we will put that country’s military on the black list of terrorists alongside Daesh,” national security committee of the Iranian parliament, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, was quoted as saying by agency Mehr.
Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards march during the annual military parade as part of the 34th anniversary of the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, in front of the mausoleum of the late founder of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran, Iran , Monday, September 22, 2014.
The decision to appoint a group as a terrorist organization is made by the Secretary of State, the US Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Treasury if Congress does not block its decision. The group that is alleged to be a terrorist organization, however, may petition a U.S. appellate court to review the designation.
At this point, the IRGC has already been sanctioned by Washington since the Treasury Department imposed sanctions in October 2017 under an executive order of the September 11 issue issued during George W. Bush’s administration.