The top U.S. commander in Iraq warned Iran and others in comments published on Monday to think twice before trying to take advantage of the U.S. military at a time when it is fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Why the Iranians would want to move against us in an overt manner that would cause us to use our air or naval power against them would be beyond me,” Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said in an interview with USA Today.
Abizaid, speaking in Qatar, was asked about concerns in Congress that a shortage of U.S. troops might tempt nations such as Iran or North Korea, both accused by Washington of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Abizaid, the top U.S. military commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, said the armed forces were not overextended.
The United States has 138,000 troops in Iraq and more than 18,000 in Afghanistan, with others deployed in Kuwait, Japan, Germany, Africa, South Korea and Bosnia.
“We can generate more military power per square inch than anybody else on Earth, and everybody knows it,” Abizaid said. “If you ever even contemplate our nuclear capability, it should give everybody the clear understanding that there is no power that can match the United States militarily.”
Washington and some Iraqi officials have accused Iran of supplying Iraqi insurgents with money, arms and militants, but Tehran said Sunday it was ready to cooperate with Iraq to stop militants crossing their mountainous 1,000-mile border.
“We have no intention of interfering in Iraq’s state matters. Iraq’s stability is necessary for Iran’s security,” Iran’s deputy interior minister for security affairs, Ali Asghar Ahmadi, said in Tehran.