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Khamenei Asks Baghdad To Make Sure U.S. Military Leaves Iraq 'As Soon As Possible'

Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Iraqi PM meeting with Iran's supreme leather Ali Khamenei. April 6, 2019

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Iraq to make sure that U.S. forces leave that country as soon as possible.

He made the comment during a meeting with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Saturday April 6.

"You need to do something that Americans would withdraw their military forces from Iraq as soon as possible. Because sending them out have always been a problem wherever they stayed for a long time," Khamenei told Abdul-Mahdi.

Khamenei claimed, "America's objective in Iraq is beyond sheer military presence," adding that "they are after long-term presence and interests and establishing a government like the military governments that were formed following the occupation of Iraq."

Iraqi President Barham Salih had said last Friday that "there is a consensus in Iraq over U.S. military presence" in the country.

Earlier, an AP report said that pro-Iran members of the Iraqi Parliament were going to table a bill calling for the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

In January, U.S. President Donald Trump had said that the reason for U.S. forces' continued presence in Iraq was "to monitor Iran" as Tehran posed "a real problem."

Barham Salih promptly responded that Trump "had not sought Iraq's permission" for monitoring Iran, and that "the U.S. should not follow its own priorities in Iraq."

According to president Salih, the U.S. forces are in Iraq to assist and advise Baghdad in the campaign against ISIS based on an agreement between Baghdad and Washington.

Meanwhile, Khamenei said in another part of his remarks at the meeting, "the current government, parliament and political activists in Iraq are undesirable for America, and the Americans are planning to push them out of Iraq's political scene," adding that "U.S. and Saudi rhetoric about Iraq are different from their real intentions."

Adel Abdul Mahdi, who has a track record of Pan Arabism and membership in the Iraqi Communist Party as a young politician, became interested in Islamic views and founded the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) which was based in Iran, as an Iraqi opposition group during the 1980s when Iraq was at war with Iran. Iran's former Assembly of Experts Chairman Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi was a co-founder.

Abdul Mahdi's visit to Tehran took place within a few days of a high-ranking Saudi delegation's visit to Baghdad.

The visiting Saudi delegation presented Iraq with a one billion dollar gift from the Saudi monarch to be spent on building of an athletic city in Iraq.

It appears that with the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran, Iraq is one of the key countries Iran can have financial and commercial transactions with.

In the meantime, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has expressed hope that the volume of transactions between the two countries would reach $20 billions.

Iranian officials had said earlier that they were trying to make an arrangement so that transactions with Iran could be based on Iraqi currency rather than U.S. dollars.

Following the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, U.S. officials granted a temporary permission to Iraq to purchase electricity from Iran in conjunction with the temporary exemptions they considered for eight of Iranian oil's customers.

Currently Iraq imports 30 percent of its requirement for electricity from Iran, mainly for consumption in Basra. Two weeks ago, U.S. government renewed the exemption for Iraq for another three months.

But U.S. sanctions have already reduced Iraq's trade with Iran, as banking relations have become difficult.

Last month, Rouhani paid a visit to Iraq and held meetings with that country's top officials.