Secretary of Defense Mark Esper indicated that “we have seen a change in Iranians’ behaviour… We restored deterrence. And it's something we watch very, very carefully”. Referring to U.S. presence in Iraq, Esper argued that “the Iraqis want us there. And I hear it from them privately. I hear it from our friends in the Middle East who talk to them… The Sunnis want us there. And many of the Shiite want us there. But the challenge is the politics, given the influence of Iran through their proxies, is weighing heavily on Baghdad and how they move forward”.
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