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Axios Oct 16
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Trump says U.S. 'not taking sides' in Iraq clashes

Trump speaks with reporters in the Rose Garden after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump, asked today about clashes between Iraqi and Kurdish forces in Iraq said: "We don't like the fact that they are clashing. We're not taking sides, but we don't like the fact that they are clashing."

Why it matters: The Kurdish military accused Iranian-backed forces of ramping up the pressure on the Kurds in the region in the first place, per Newsweek. After Trump's decision to de-certify the Iran deal without fully pulling out, Tehran is likely watching the U.S. stance in the region closely. Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said Trump's failure to take sides in the dispute could be a "[b]ig green light" for the Iranian government to increase its influence in Iraq.

Go deeper: Dispute between Kurds, Iraqi government escalates in Kirkuk