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Keep American troops, or we will block oil revenue account: US to Iraq

Trump has said he would not leave unless Iraq pays every penny spent on the US airbase there

Agencies  |  Tehran/Baghdad/Washington 

Iranian Americans
Iranian Americans supporting the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a political wing of an Iran exile group that seeks to overthrow Iran’s government, at Los Angeles | Photo: AP/PTI

could lose access to its Federal Reserve Bank of New York account in which it keeps revenues from oil sales if Baghdad forces American troops to leave, the Donald Trump administration has warned according to reports.

This would affect an already fragile economy. According to a 2018 financial statement from the Central Bank of Iraq, almost $3 billion were lying in their Fed account.

Trump has been threatening sanctions on as it has asked US troops to leave the area after a US strike killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military force at Baghdad airport.

Trump has said he would not leave unless Iraq pays every penny spent on the US airbase there. “We have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump had tweeted.

Just last week the US President had said America doesn’t need West Asian oil. Trump made his assertion during an address from the White House after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at two airbases in Iraq used by the US military. Though Canada remains the biggest supplier to the US, West Asia delivers most of the rest.

Iranian security forces, meanwhile, stepped up patrols in Tehran, seeking to quell further anti-government protests after the regime admitted downing the Ukrainian passenger jet “by mistake”.

Protests erupted across Iran for a second day on Sunday, piling pressure on the leadership. “They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” a group of protesters outside a university in Tehran chanted, according to video clips posted on Twitter.

First Published: Mon, January 13 2020. 00:28 IST