Nearing the end of nearly nine years of American military occupation of Iraq, President Barack Obama Monday warned other nations against interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.
"Just as Iraq has pledged not to interfere in other nations, other nations must not interfere in Iraq," Obama said after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at the White House. The statement is seen as a warning to Iran not to interfere in the affairs of its neighbor. Iran and Iraq warred against one another in the 1980s when Iraq was under the rule of Saddam Hussein, but forged new ties since Maliki's government has been in power in Baghdad. The United States, fearing Iran may develop nuclear weapons, is using sanctions and other means to pressure the Tehran government to abandon its nuclear program and is hoping neighboring Iraq will retain its close ties to the United States. The United States has the world's largest embassy in Iraq and will retain some 16,000 employees there. But the Baghdad government is expected to exercise its independence in relations with Iran as well as other countries in the region.
"I think that obviously the US troop withdrawal will mean that there's less influence, less US influence," Ali al-Saffar, an Iraq analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, told the French international news service Agence France-Presse (AFP).
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