DAILY FILE – Iraqi political and militia leaders have condemned US President Donald Trump’s unannounced trip to Iraq as a violation of their country’s sovereignty.
In a surprise visit to US troops, Trump on Wednesday landed at an airbase west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where he thanked the soldiers for their service.
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”.
Islah is headed by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has long opposed the US presence in Iraq since a Washington-led invasion toppled the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003 over weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda that both proved non-existent.
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.
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.
Mahdi’s office said in a statement that US authorities had informed Iraq’s leadership of the president’s visit in advance. The statement said the Iraqi prime minister and the US president held a telephonic conversation due to a “disagreement over how to conduct the meeting”.
Iraqi legislators told Reuters news agency that the two leaders had disagreed over where their planned meeting should take place: Trump had asked to meet at the Ain al-Asad military base, an offer Mahdi declined.
Trump’s visit to Iraq came a week after his decision to withdraw all US troops from neighbouring Syria despite strong objections from domestic and foreign allies. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis and the US envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group quit shortly after Trump’s announcement.
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