Trump Angers Iraqi Leaders & Citizens as He Visits Troops on the Ground

Donald Trump visits US troops in Iraq for first trip to a conflict zone
Trump visits U.S. troops in Iraq, his first trip as president to a combat zone

28 December, 2018

President Donald Trump visited U.S. military forces Wednesday in Iraq, 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.

U.S. President Donald Trump met with a half dozen U.S. Air Force leaders based in Germany while aboard Air Force One at Ramstein Air Base, early Thursday (December 27) during a brief stopover while en route to Washington after his surprise Christmas visit to Iraq. A planned meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi was scrapped and replaced by a phone call, the premier's office said.

Trump speaks to US troops in an unannounced visit to the Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26. "If I will say this, if you take ISIS and if we see something happening with ISIS that we don't like, we can hit them so fast and so hard, they won't, they really won't know what the hell happened", he said.

"We like to win, we are going to win", US President Donald Trump told the troops at Al-Asad airbase in central Iraq.

A Defense Dept. official told Newsweek, in response to this, that "The deployments of special operation forces, including Navy SEALs, are nearly always classified events, as to protect those men and women that are on the front lines of every overt and covert conflict the United States is involved in". "You would have see what we had to go through in the darkened plane with all windows closed with no light anywhere", he said.

While there have been no large battles in Iraq since IS suffered a series of defeats previous year, some 5,200 United States troops train and advise Iraqi forces still waging a campaign against the group.

The US military presence in Iraq also aids "Israel's desire to block the Tehran-Beirut route" and helps offset Iran's strengthening presence in the region, he said. "You've had enough time", he said he told the top brass.

Sabah al-Saidi, the head of the other bloc, Islah, also denounced Trump's unannounced visit as a "blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty", and called for an emergency session of Parliament to discuss Trump's visit Wednesday evening. And then he went on to apparently out some of them whose identities are supposed to be a closely guarded secret.

Donald Trump visits US troops in Iraq for first trip to a conflict zone
Trumps greet US troops in Iraq

Trump also said he had no plans to withdraw the 5,200 US forces in Iraq.

Trump had faced criticism for not yet visiting United States troops stationed in harm's way as he comes up on his two-year mark in office.

However, the president has made disentangling America from its wars a priority since his 2016 election and he said in Iraq that the USA would no longer be treated as "suckers", CNN reported. "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.

Mr Trump has said Deputy Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who he named as General Mattis's replacement, "could be there for a long time".

Trump's trip was veiled in such secrecy there was speculation that Iraqi authorities had not been informed, and the USA leader did not meet with Iraqi officials.

Revealing identities "even if it's the commander-in-chief, would prove a propaganda boom if any of this personnel are detained by a hostile government or captured by a terrorist group", Malcolm Nance, a former US Navy intelligence specialist told Newsweek.

"I had concerns for the institution of the presidency, not for myself personally", he said.

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