Iraqi lawmakers criticise Trump visit as blow to Iraqi sovereignty

Posted December 28, 2018

US President Donald Trump's first trip to a combat zone may have been shrouded in secrecy, but aviation enthusiasts were able to track Air Force One on its flight to Iraq - to the concern of US military veterans.

"We're no longer the suckers, folks", Mr Trump told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq.

Trump has been soundly criticised for eschewing such a trip in the first two years of his presidency. Few in Iraq or elsewhere knew the USA president was in the country until minutes before he left again. With McGurk gone a key United States official who worked on Iraqi coalition politics and smoothing relations between Baghdad and Saudi Arabia, is no longer working on the Iraq file.

"Trump needs to know his limits". The US "cannot continue to be the policeman of the world", he told troops at the Iraqi base.

Iraqi officials said a planned meeting on Wednesday between Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was cancelled due to a disagreement over where it should take place.

He said the United States could use Iraq as a regional launching pad to carry out operations against the ISIS and Syria.

Speaking to reporters, Trump grumbled over the need for security precautions and said security concerns forced him to scrap earlier trips to visit USA troops in the Middle East.

The Iraq trip will also go some way to ending criticism over Trump's failure to meet soldiers on the ground, even as he repeatedly touts his support for the military in campaign rallies. American forces withdrew in 2011 after invading in 2003 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the Iraqi government to help fight the jihadist group.

After departing Iraq, Trump stopped over at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he and First Lady Melania Trump shook hands and greeted some of the hundreds of troops gathered in a hangar. "We want to fight where it is meaningful", he said, noting that anyone who attacked America would suffer consequences like no one has suffered before.

Islah is headed by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq is represented in Iraq's parliament by the Binaa bloc, one of the two rival coalitions which together control almost all the seats in the lawmaking body. Binaa favours close ties with Iran and is aligned with Tehran on regional political issues.

Qais al-Khazali, commander of Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, Iraq's most powerful Shia Muslim militia, also objected to the trip.

Khazali was jailed by British and US forces from 2007 to 2010 for managing sections of the Shia insurgency against the occupation during those years.

"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. The last USA service member to die in Iraq was in August, as the result of a helicopter crash in Sinjar. Four militants were killed, according to the coalition.

In a statement, it said: "A disagremeent over how to conduct the meeting led to the meeting being replaced by a telephone conversation".