Trump's surprise troop visit sparks criticism in Iraq

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

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet military personnel at the dining facility during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq December 26, 2018. The unannounced journey took place just days after announcing that he planned to remove USA troops from Syria and saw his own defense secretary resign in response.

During Trump's visit to the base, he paused to take a selfie with U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Kyu Lee.

Trump, who speaks often about his support for the USA military, had faced criticism for not yet visiting US troops stationed in harm's way as he comes up on his two-year mark in office. He would go on to visit another conflict zone, Afghanistan, twice in his second year in office.

"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.

According to the pool report from his visit to the U.S. troops, a Navy officer called Kyu Lee told the President during his visit that he was the chaplain for SEAL Team Five, to which Mr Trump responded: "in that case, let's take a picture".

The president has made more than 7,500 false or misleading claims in his 700 or so days in office, according to The Washington Post's Fact Checker. By speaking at Al-Asad in western Iraq he sought to reach out directly to the American military.

US President Donald Trump's surprise visit to Iraq did not include a meeting with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and enraged local lawmakers, exposing rifts between Baghdad and Washington.

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Sabah al-Saadi, who leads the Shia Muslim parliamentary bloc Islah, called it a "blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty".

"Dealing with Iraq and its sovereignty in this way will harm Iraqi-US relations", he said.

Soon, the very same Malcolm Nance who complained about Trump supposedly doxxing the SEALs in Iraq now demanded a House investigation into the troops in Germany.

Speculation had been mounting that Trump would finally make the gesture following his controversial plan to slash troop levels in Afghanistan and his order to withdraw entirely from Syria. "They've been in Iraq 16 years, and they haven't given anything to the country except destruction and devastation".

As the US President, Mr Trump has the ability to declassify information.

"I know there was a lot of security up there, in the skies", he said.

Obama followed through on his pledges in 2011, withdrawing American soldiers from Iraq.

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USA troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State terror group.

Trump said in Iraq that some of the U.S. troops from Syria "will come here for a stay, but a lot of them are going to be going back home".

India had felt encouraged, in fact, by a larger role the Trump administration envisaged for it in Afghanistan in its South Asia strategy unveiled a year ago. "Our boys, our young women, our men, they're all coming back and they're coming back now".

"If you would have seen what we had to go through in the darkened plane with all windows closed with no light anywhere - pitch black", he said. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced his resignation soon afterward.

President Donald Trump's lightning Christmas visit with U.S. troops in Iraq has triggered questions and criticism in a country deeply divided over Washington's influence since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Trump had not previously said he would pull U.S. troops from Iraq, but the trip comes after he abruptly announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 United States troops from Syria - a decision that reportedly prompted Defence Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation - and reports emerged of plans to remove about half of the 14,000 USA troops in Afghanistan.

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