United States president Donald Trump defends Syria pullout, expresses unhappiness with Afghan deployment

Deanna Kelley
December 28, 2018

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President Donald Trump's surprise trip to Iraq may have quieted criticism at home that he had yet to visit troops in a combat zone, but it has infuriated Iraqi politicians who on Thursday demanded the withdrawal of US forces.

After his recent decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, Donald Trump visited a military base in Iraq.

He left without meeting any Iraqi officials, though he spoke to Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi by phone.

Trump invited Abdel Mahdi to visit Washington and he accepted, according to the White House.

A row over funding for this flagship policy - the most eye-catching pledge he made when running for president - has triggered a partial government shutdown, now in its fifth day. Again, it was his first visit as commander in chief, though he had also visited Iraq in July 2008 as a US senator while campaigning for president.

Trump's trip came at a moment of tension with some of his top military officials.

Iraq's Sunni politicians have been largely quiet about the presidential visit, reflecting the ties they have cultivated with the U.S.to counterbalance the might of the country's Iran-backed and predominantly-Shiite militias.

He acknowledged security concerns about visiting Iraq, saying it was "pretty sad" that he needed such secrecy to see United States troops.

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"Melania appears to keep their torsos apart as they kiss, stretching her neck in to achieve face-closeness instead", she went on, claiming that this kissing style would be a norm for a greeting or farewell kiss between colleagues or friends, rather than spouses. We are spread out all over the world. "Frankly, it's ridiculous", he added.

During Trump's visit to the base, he paused to take a selfie with U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Kyu Lee. "It's time to get our soldiers out, and it's time to get our young people out", Trump said, sitting next to military leaders and advisors. You've had enough time.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq group, expressed the Iraqis' resolve to purge the country of American forces.

Now Iraqi politicians are slamming the visit, especially the pro-Iranian groups. On December 19, the USA leader announced his decision to start pulling out American troops from Syria, stressing that the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) had been defeated and this was the only reason why the U.S. forces had remained there under his presidency.

Qais Khazali, the head of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, promised on Twitter that Iraq's parliament would vote to expel USA forces from Iraq, or the militia and others would force them out by "other means".

"Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces". Such a move would reflect one of the strategies proposed by the Pentagon after he announced his decision to withdraw troops from that country.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was unable to meet with Abdul-Mahdi because of security concerns and the short notice of the president's trip to Iraq.

IS, which once controlled swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, has been driven mostly into hiding. "In fact, we could use this as a base if we wanted to do something in Syria".

The prime minister's office said "differences in points of view over the arrangements" prevented the two from meeting but they discussed security issues and Trump's order to withdraw US troops from Syria over the phone.

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