Iraqi Lawmakers Are Upset Over President Trump's Impromptu Visit With U.S. Troops

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Posted: Dec 26, 2018 10:55 PM
Iraqi Lawmakers Are Upset Over President Trump's Impromptu Visit With U.S. Troops

Political leaders and lawmakers in Iraq are upset with President Donald Trump over his impromptu visit with U.S. troops on Wednesday. They say that his visit is a "violation of Iraq’s sovereignty" and Trump's meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was canceled because the two couldn't agree on a location, Reuters reported. Trump wanted to meet at the Ain al-Asad military base but Abdul Mahdi refused.

Both wings of the parliament agreed on one thing: they didn't like how President Trump visited Iraq.

The leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, Sabah al Saadi, called for an emergency parliamentary meeting “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, which is led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, had similar sentiments about Trump's visit.

“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,” statement from Bina said.

According to Abdul Mahdi's office, U.S. authorities contacted members of the Iraqi government ahead of Trump's visit. Trump and Abdul Mahdi also spoke via telephone because they couldn't come to an agreement on where to conduct an in-person meeting.

Some Iraqi groups believe the United States has a vested interest in Iraq. 

"The American leadership was defeated in Iraq and wants to return again under any pretext, and this is what we will never allow," said Falih Khazali, a former militia leader and Bina politician.

Here's the current situation in the Middle East (via Reuters):

While there has been no full-scale violence in Iraq since Islamic State suffered a series of defeats last year, some 5,200 U.S. troops train and advise Iraqi forces still waging a campaign against the militant group.

Islah is headed by populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr has long opposed the U.S. presence in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. He led two uprisings against U.S. forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shi’ite leaders to also distance himself from Iran.

Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, also known as the PMF, many of which are supported by Iran, oppose the presence of U.S. troops in the region. The PMF was made formally part of the security forces this year after helping the military defeat Islamic State in Iraq in 2017.

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 (U.S.) military forces. And if they do not leave, we have the experience and the ability to remove them by other means that your forces are familiar with.”