Trump reveals safety concerns for Iraq trip

President Donald Trump and the first lady quietly swept into Iraq Wednesday to pay a holiday visit to US troops, at last making good on the President's promise to travel to one of the war zones he has derided as costly blunders.

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 1:15 PM
Updated: Dec 28, 2018 1:23 PM

Several lawmakers and political parties in Iraq on Thursday demanded the departure of American troops from their country.

The outcry came after the surprise visit by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

The President and first lady quietly swept in to Iraq to pay a holiday visit to US troops -- the first trip Trump has made to a war zone.

That visit and the US troop presence were denounced on Thursday by parliament members, major Iraqi political parties and key players in the current Iraqi government.

"Trump should know that Iraq is not an American state and Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi should bear responsibility," Iraqi lawmaker Faleh al-Khazali said in a statement.

"We demand all US troops to leave Iraq and Iraqi government should consider them as occupiers."

Ahmed al-Assadi, another Iraqi lawmaker, said that "the demand for the withdrawal of American forces has become a basic requirement that must be implemented as soon as possible."

"The continuation of the US administration in dealing with the presence of its forces in Iraq in this way will push the Iraqis to use all means that ensure the removal of these forces and all foreign forces from Iraqi territory."

A meeting between Trump and Abdul-Mahdi scheduled to take place in Baghdad on Wednesday was canceled because of a "variation of views," Iraqi Prime Minister's media office said in a statement released Wednesday.

"There was supposed to be a formal reception and a meeting between Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and the US President, but a variation of views to organize the meeting led it to be replaced by a telephone conversation on developments in the situation," the statement read.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that for security reasons, the White House was only able to invite the prime minister two hours before the scheduled time of the meeting and that the prime minister was in a different part of Iraq and unable to attend.

Sanders emphasized that President Trump and the prime minister had a good call and that Trump invited the prime minister to visit the White House and the prime minister accepted. Sanders said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with Iraq's Prime Minister in Baghdad on January 11.

The Iranian-backed Islamic Dawa Party, Mahdi's political party, said in a statement released Thursday that President Trump's visit to one of Iraq's military bases occurred "in a way that has no respect for the country sovereignty or the norms of diplomacy."

"We call on all the great Iraqi people to express their condemnation of the visit of the arrogant Trump and to demand lawmakers in the House of Representatives to issue a firm resolution to remove all foreign forces from the land of Iraq." Dawa party statement added.

"We express our rejection to the way that US President Donald Trump visited Iraq, which is not commensurate with diplomatic norms and relations with sovereign states," former prime minister and the current leader of Iraq's Victory Party, Haider al-Abadi, said in a Thursday statement.

"Dealing with Iraq and its sovereignty in this way will harm the Iraqi-US relations, and the countries of the region and the world should know that a strong and sovereign Iraq is in the interests of security and stability in the region and the world.

Another statement released on Thursday by Hakim al-Zamili, a political leader of the movement of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, called for an end the US-led coalition in Iraq and addressed how Iraq's airspace is currently controlled by the coalition.

"We must end the page of the so-called international coalition, which controls the Iraqi airspace, under the pretext of tracking terrorist cells, which made the Iraqi aviation authorities do not know the entry of aircraft into our international airspace and Iraqi air bases, that American soldiers located in some of them," Zamili said.

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