US President Donald Trump’s unscheduled trip to Iraq met with harsh criticism from the Arab country’s political figures and parties, with some denouncing the move as a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
For the first time since he became US president almost two years ago, Trump paid a surprise visit to American troops in Iraq on Wednesday. He landed at an airbase west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where he thanked the soldiers for their service.
But Trump’s planned meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was canceled over dispute about the location of the meeting.
Meanwhile, Iraqi political parties and figures have condemned Trump’s visit as a violation of their country’s sovereignty.
Sabah al-Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of the parliament “to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits. The US occupation of Iraq is over”.
The bloc underlined that the US withdrawal from Syria is no justification for using Iraq as a base for American troops.
The Bina bloc, Islah’s rival in parliament, also objected to the US president’s trip to Iraq.
“Trump’s visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,” a statement from Bina said.
In separate comments, Hashim al-Mousavi, the spokesperson for Iraq’s al-Nujaba Movement, a major Shiite resistance group, underlined that “stupid Trump” must be aware that there is no place for US military bases in Iraq. He also said the time has come for the Iraqi government to expel the American forces, whose presence damages Iraq’s sovereignty, according to Alsumaria news.
Jafar al-Hosseini, a spokesman for Iraq’s Hezbollah Battalions also condemned Trump’s visit, stressing that the Islamic resistance forces will force the US to pull its troops out of Iraq.
Abdul Mahdi’s office said in a statement that US authorities had informed Iraq’s leadership of the presidential visit in advance. The statement said the Iraqi prime minister and the US president held a telephone conversation due to a “disagreement over how to conduct the meeting”.
Iraqi legislators told Reuters news agency that the two leaders had disagreed over where their planned meeting should take place: Trump had asked to meet at the Ain al-Asad military base, an offer Mahdi declined.
Trump’s visit to Iraq came a week after his decision to withdraw all US troops from neighboring Syria despite strong objections from domestic and foreign allies. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis and the US envoy to the coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group quit shortly after Trump’s announcement.
In a speech at the Ain al-Asad Airbase, Trump defended his decision to pull US soldiers out of Syria while insisting he has no similar plans for Iraq.