“I hear a lot of talk, and I say honestly most of these talks are untrue. I respect the rest of the countries. I realize the Islamic Republic of Iran is our neighbor and has fears, I know, but Iraq’s interests are number one,” Abadi said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday night.
US-led international coalition members operated on forward and permanent bases in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region during the ISIS conflict. They continue to advise, assist, and train Iraqi Security Forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga but not Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces. Turkey’s military also has a presence in Bashiqa.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said earlier this week in Moscow that the country has no bases in Syria. H.R. McMaster, the top security advisor to US President Donald Trump, had charged last week that Iran is using the IRGC to build a large proxy army in Syria.
Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani has had frequent and publicized visits to both Syria and Iraq especially since the conflict with ISIS began in 2014, and has been described as a “military advisor” to the Hashd by the spokesperson of the Iraqi government.
“We made a clear decision. We will not allow Iraqi soil to be used against Iran or another side. We will not allow for that,” Abadi added.
However, the premier proclaimed that Iraq needs three things from the foreign countries: quality training, logistical support in all aspects, and intelligence cooperation.
Abadi, nevertheless, pointed out to the premature withdrawal of international forces from Iraq in 2012, adding that in the first quarter of 2013, areas in Al-Anbar and the town of Fallujah fell to terrorists.
Last Thursday, Secretary-General Stoltenberg announced in a meeting of NATO defense ministers that it plans to establish permanent training missions in Iraq for the professionalization of the country’s forces.
NATO has not announced intentions to build military bases in Iraq.