‘Iraq should brace for sanctions that will make the ones placed on Iran look weak in comparison if it kicks out the US troops without first covering the costs for an airbase, US President Donald Trump said.
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build, long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday.
The punitive measures that the US is ready to slap on its supposed ally in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) will be even harsher than the crippling sanctions already in effect against Tehran, the president said.
“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
Trump’s warning to Iraq comes after Iraqi MPs passed a non-binding resolution, championed by the country’s caretaker prime minister, asking the Iraqi government to expel foreign troops by cancelling a request for military assistance from the US-led coalition.
The resolution, adopted earlier on Sunday, envisions that some foreign troops might stay in Iraq for training purposes, but the number of foreign instructors deemed necessary should be reported back by the Iraqi authorities.
‘We are not allowed to touch Iran’s cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way’
Trump also doubled down on his threat to wipe out Iranian cultural sites in retaliation for potential future attacks from Tehran, which has vowed to avenge the assassination of its top general, Qassem Soleimani, by the US.
Accusing Iran of “torturing” and “maiming” American soldiers in suicide attacks and by planting roadside bombs, Trump hinted that attacks on US troops justify potential war crimes – the destruction of a nation’s cultural heritage.’
Read more: Bully painted in a corner lashes out – Trump threatens Iraq with ‘very big sanctions’ unless it pays back billions for an airbase if US troops are forced to withdraw