No. 2 - Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state
No. 2 - Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state. REUTERS

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't mince words Sunday when she called Iran a military dictatorship and issued a fiery warning that it stay out of Iraq after the United States completes its pullout of troops this year.

During a tour of the Sunday morning TV talk shows, Clinton said no country, particularly Iran, should underestimate the U.S. commitment to Iraq, where American-led forces invaded more than eight years ago to take down Saddam Hussein, the Los Angeles Times reported.

We have paid too high a price to give the Iraqis this chance, and I hope that Iran and no one else miscalculates that, Clinton said on NBC's Meet the Press.

Iran should look at the region. We may not be leaving military based in Iraq, but we have bases elsewhere. We have a NATO ally in Turkey ... I don't think anyone should be mistaken about America's commitment to the new democracy in Iraq that we have sacrificed so much to help them achieve.

The departure of the remaining 40,000 U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year -- after President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were unable to reach an agreement with other Iraqi officials to allow a small group of troops to remain as trainers -- has many Republicans questioning whether it actually serves American interests. They also say their primary concerns involve recent threats by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to get involved in the training of Iraqi troops.

The withdrawal is a serious mistake, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in an interview from Jordan on ABC's This week, and is viewed in the region as a victory for the Iranians.

Once the military is gone, embassy personnel will be targets, McCain said. The fact that we have other bases in the region would have very little impact on Iraq itself.

Clinton, however, said the pullout of American troops is a victory for the Iraqi people and the fulfillment of an Obama campaign promise.

We are where we are right now. We have a plan in place. ... The Iraqi government is looking forward. They're trying to chart a new course that will give them the kind of independence and sovereignty from everyone, including their big neighbor, Iran, and we're going to support that. It's very much in America's interests to do so.

In an interview with the Persian News Network program, Parazit, Clinton also said the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps has become more involved in running the country and Iran may be heading toward a military dictatorship.

The Quds force and other elements of the security establishment taking financial stakes or taking certain economic enterprises - that's part of what I mean... there seems to be... a more military takeover in effect in Iran, she said.

Clinton's comments come two weeks after the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards was implicated in the a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arab ambassador in Washington. But, she said, the U.S. is pursuing a two-track strategy of sanctions and diplomacy toward Iran.

The strongest sanctions were adopted by the United Nations when it became abundantly clear that the regime is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, she said. Everyone believes that the covert actions, the covert facilities, the misleading information, is part of an attempt by the regime to acquire nuclear weapons, which would be very destabilizing.