Iraqi Lawmakers Demand US Withdrawal After Trump Visit
28 December, 2018, 08:27 | Author: Sheri Evans
The First Couple were on their way back from an army base in Iraq when they stopped to refuel and meet service members carrying MAGA hats who had waited up until 4am local time.
Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq: President Donald Trump used a lightning visit to Iraq - his first with USA troops in a conflict zone since being elected - to defend the withdrawal from Syria and declare an end to America´s role as the global "policeman".
He did not meet with the country's Prime Minister but spoke to him over the phone. Once at the base, the president treated everyone to a heaping serving of the usual bravado and lies, claiming he was right to withdraw from Syria because ISIS has "been knocked silly" (defeating them will still take years) and that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will finish mopping them up for us, without offering clear evidence he agreed to any such thing.
Pundits back in the United States cried foul, denouncing the video as a violation of operational security for revealing the presence of SEAL Team Five in Iraq.
"We're no longer the suckers, folks", Mr Trump told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq. Reporters in the U.S. first griped about the inhumanity of dragging troops out of bed in the middle of the night, before they saw photos and video from Ramstein of some service members waving Trump flags and MAGA hats.
Mr Trump also used his trip to defend his decision to withdraw USA forces from Syria where they have been helping battle Islamic State militants.
On Dec. 15, the US -led coalition launched an airstrike in support of Iraqi troops who were chasing IS fighters toward a tunnel west of Mosul.
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While President Trump is pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, much to the disliking of his critics, Iraqi leadership is instead angry at the President for doing just the opposite - leaving troops in their country.
His office also did not say whether he had accepted an invitation to the White House.
Trump and his wife Melania slowly made his way down a rope line at the Ramstein airbase, shaking hands, chatting and posing for photos.
Supporters of the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won big in national elections in May, campaigning on a platform of curbing both USA and rival Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs.
"I know there was a lot of security up there, in the skies", he said.
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 must be aware that Iraq's sovereignty came with blood, not the building of bases in this country of resistance and martyrs". Trump sought to highlight the achievements of the four year war on ISIS, including what he said was the liberation of 20,000 square miles of territory and 3 million civilians. Over the weekend, Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, accelerated his resignation, telling colleagues he could not in good conscience carry out Trump's policy of withdrawing USA troops from Syria.
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According to a transcript released by the White House, he thanked troops for the "near-elimination" of IS and said "we'll be watching... very, very closely - the remnants" of the group. And we got you a big one. He warned in a tweet that parliament would respond to the visit by "forcing the U.S. troops to leave Iraq".
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