Iraqi lawmakers are seizing on President Donald Trump’s surprise visit on Wednesday to expel all U.S. forces from the country.
Politicians from both sides of Iraq’s political divide slammed Trump’s visit as arrogant and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and called for a vote to remove approximately 5,000 U.S. troops who are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State group, according to The Associated Press.
“Parliament must clearly and urgently express its view about the ongoing American violations of Iraqi sovereignty,” said Salam al-Shimiri, a lawmaker loyal to the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The lawmaker built a platform on curbing U.S. and Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs, the AP noted.
Trump’s visit “violated several diplomatic norms,” he added.
The previously unannounced trip came at a time of change in the region following the president’s abrupt announcement earlier this month that he will withdraw American troops from Syria, a decision that prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Trump said on Wednesday that he had “no plans at all” to remove U.S. forces from Iraq.
“I think a lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking. It’s time for us to start using our head,” Trump said while also defending his Syria decision.
Trump spent three hours at the U.S. air base about 100 miles west of the capital Baghdad meeting with American troops, but left without meeting any Iraqi officials but spoke on the phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Just returned from visiting our troops in Iraq and Germany. One thing is certain, we have incredible people representing our Country – people that know how to win!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2018
US troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State terror group. 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.