Trump to United States troops in Iraq

28 December, 2018, 08:26 | Author: Eloise Houston
  • Donald Trump visits US troops in Iraq for first trip to a conflict zone

Abdul Mahdi's office said in a statement that US authorities had informed Iraq's leadership of the president's visit ahead of time.

President Trump was due to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi during the trip but the talks were cancelled over what Mr Mahdi's office called "disagreements" over organisation.

Trump, making his first presidential visit to troops in a troubled region on Wednesday, said he has no plans to withdraw the 5,200 United States forces in the country.

But Trump stressed during his visit that he had no intention of pulling troops out of Iraq, which he said could be used as a future base "if we wanted to do something in Syria".

"Dealing with Iraq and its sovereignty in this way will harm Iraqi-US relations", he said.

The statement said the Iraqi leader had invited the president to visit Baghdad, and Trump invited Abdel-Mahdi to Washington.

Islah is headed by Moqtada al-Sadr Sadr who has long opposed the USA presence in Iraq since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Obama's own predecessor, President George W. Bush, had also visited Iraq less than a year after the USA -led invasion of the country began in March 2003.

Iraqi politicians told the Reuters news agency that the pair had disagreed over the venue, with Trump asking to meet at the Ain al-Asad air base, an offer which Abdul Mahdi declined.

Trump said on December 26 that he has no plans to reduce that number.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the powerful Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia said on Twitter, "Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces".

Qais Khazali, the head of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia that fought key battles against IS in north Iraq, promised on Twitter that Parliament would vote to expel USA forces from Iraq, or the militias would force them out by "other means".

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US President Donald Trump is seen through glass as he takes a photo with US troops at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany on Thursday.

Trump began by laying out that he had "no plans at all" to reduce the substantial USA presence in Iraq and underscored his willingness to launch more military operations in the future.

"They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty", Obama said of the Iraqi government. They don't pay for it, and they're going to have to. We are spread out all over the world.

Revealing identities "even if it's the commander-in-chief, would prove a propaganda boom if any of this personnel are detained by a hostile government or captured by a terrorist group", Malcolm Nance, a former US Navy intelligence specialist told Newsweek. "Frankly, it's ridiculous", he added.

Donald Trump's surprise visit to USA forces in Iraq has left a sour taste in the mouths of local MPs, prompting calls for an end to American deployments.

"You can't have any more time".

"I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds", said Trump, who wore an olive green bomber style jacket as he was welcomed by chants of "USA!"

Trump's visit wasn't about Iraq or the Middle East. "The American occupation of Iraq is over", said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of one of two main blocs in Iraq's parliament.

Still, after defeating IS militants in their last urban bastions previous year, Iraqi politicians and militia leaders are speaking out against the continued presence of US forces on Iraqi soil. Al-Sadr's lawmakers now form the core of the Islah bloc, which is headed by al-Saidi in Parliament. "I got you a big one." - remarks prompting cheers Wednesday at al-Asad Air Base in Iraq.

The US military presence in Iraq also aids "Israel's desire to block the Tehran-Beirut route" and helps offset Iran's strengthening presence in the region, he said.

Trump's decision to go to Iraq the day after Christmas is part of an attempt to change the narrative after being slammed for his reversal of Syrian policy and accusations that he made the decision without consulting the Pentagon or State Department.

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