Thursday, December 27, 2018

Trump’s secret visit to US troops in Iraq

Baghdad/ Iraq TradeLink: Suddenly, US President Trump was yesterday in Iraq to visit American
military forces on Wednesday, making his first trip to troops stationed in a combat zone only days after announcing his intention to withdraw the United States from foreign wars in Syria and
Afghanistan.

On Iraqi response for the visit, a statement was issued by Premier Abdul Mehdi’s office pointed that the meeting with Mr. Trump was 
cancelled due to “differences on how to organize this meeting”.

The statement added that the meeting was substituted with a phone call on the developments of events in Iraq.

The sudden and secret trip took place during a partial government shutdown and less than  a week after disturbing the military status quo by announcing the withdrawal of all troops from Syria.
Speaking to troops at Al Asad Air Base, Mr. Trump defended his move in Syria.

“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” the president said. “Our presence in Syria was not open-ended and was never intended to be permanent. Eight years ago, we went there for three months and we never left.”

Mr. Trump, who visited the air base with his wife, Melania, said he had rejected requests from military commanders to remain in Syria for another six months.

 “I said, ‘Nope.’ I gave you a lot of six months,” the president said. “And now we’re doing it a different way.”

Visiting troops abroad is a presidential tradition. President George W. Bush served Thanksgiving turkey to the soldiers in Baghdad in 2003, in the early days of the Iraq war. President Barack Obama flew to Baghdad in April 2009 and won cheers when he told the troops that it was time for the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country. He also visited Afghanistan four times while in office.

Mr. Trump ran for the presidency in 2016 on a platform of bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and Syria, part of a broader strategy of ending nearly two decades of American military interventions — including in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan — that he criticized as costly, ineffective and at odds with his “America First” foreign policy.

But the United States still has 14,000 troops in Afghanistan and about 2,000 in Syria. While the number of casualties in these conflicts is a fraction of what it was during the two previous administrations, the fact that American troops are still on the ground — in the case of Afghanistan, 17 years after they were first deployed — attests to the difficulty of extracting the United States from these entanglements.

Mr. Trump, who was also accompanied to Iraq by his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and a small group of reporters, said that “the United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world.”