Trump's surprise troop visit sparks criticism in Iraq

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 26.01.2019 17:43

Iraqi political and militia leaders condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday as a violation of Iraq's sovereignty. Meanwhile, lawmakers said a meeting between Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was canceled due to a disagreement over the venue.

Sabah al Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of parliament "to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over." The Bina bloc, Islah's rival in parliament and led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, also objected to Trump's trip to Iraq. "Trump's visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government," said a statement from Bina.

During his first with U.S. troops in a conflict zone since being elected, Trump landed at 7:16 pm local time at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, accompanied by his wife Melania. The president spoke to a group of about 100 mostly special forces personnel and separately with military leaders before leaving a few hours later. Trump told his audience in Iraq that the decision to withdraw the roughly 2,000 troops from Syria illustrated his quest to put "America first."

Trump also said he had no plans to withdraw the 5,200 U.S. forces in Iraq. That's down from about 170,000 in 2007 at the height of the surge of U.S. forces to combat sectarian violence unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion to topple former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter