December 27: USA President Donald Trump’s surprise visit to military troops in Iraq created a storm among Iraqi Political leaders Wednesday. Iraqi political and militia leaders have criticised Trump's unannounced trip to Iraq as a violation of their country's sovereignty. In a surprise visit to US troops, President Trump and first lady Melania landed at Al Asad Air Base at west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where Trump thanked the soldiers for their service, on Wednesday.
President Trump’s visit marked his first trip to troops stationed in a combat zone which turned out to be significant. The trip, shrouded in secrecy, came during a partial government shutdown and less than a week after Mr Trump disrupted the military status quo and infuriated even some of his political allies by announcing plans to withdraw all troops from Syria and about half from Afghanistan. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis and the US envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group quit shortly after Trump's announcement.
Speaking to troops at Al Asad Air Base, Mr Trump defended his move in Syria. “We are no longer the suckers, folks,” the president said, adding, “Our presence in Syria was not open-ended, and it was never intended to be permanent. Eight years ago, we went there for three months, and we never left.”
Sabah al-Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of the Iraqi parliament to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits. “The US occupation of Iraq is over”, he said in a statement. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died in the conflict, which many analysts call one of the major US foreign policy debacles in recent history and one of the most destructive invasions in modern history.
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.
Falih Khazali, a former militia leader turned politician allied with Bina, accused the US of wanting to increase its presence 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," he said.
Trump did not meet any Iraqi officials during his three-hour long stay. A scheduled meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was scrapped and the two leaders talked instead by telephone.