Trump declares end to USA policeman role in surprise Iraq visit

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Speaking from the Ain al-Asad air base, just west of the capital Baghdad, Trump, who announced the pullout of USA soldiers from Syria last week, said Washington had no plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

The abruptness of his visit left lawmakers in Baghdad smarting and drawing unfavourable comparisons to the occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion. According to NPR, Trump and Mahdi had planned to meet, but this fell apart after he asked the prime minister to leave the capital city of Baghdad and meet him in Al Asad - a request Iraqis found disrespectful to their sovereignty. "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".

Critics said the USA exit from Syria, the latest in Trump's increasingly isolationist-style foreign policy, would provide an opening for IS to regroup, give Iran a green light to expand its influence in the region and leave US -backed Kurdish forces vulnerable to attacks from Turkey.

Both main blocs of parliamentarians expressed outrage over the unannounced visit and Trump's vow that troops would remain in Iraq.

More than 5,000 USA troops remain in Iraq to train and advise local forces, who are fighting what remains of IS following a string a victories a year ago. In addition, according to news reports, the president is expected to withdraw 7,000 of the 14,000 us troops in Afghanistan.

President Trump's decision not to withdraw our troops from Iraq indicates he has a longer timeline for fulfilling his campaign pledge to wind down the US military commitment there.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the powerful Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia said on Twitter, "Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces".

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

Islah is headed by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

"We've been here, and if you look at Afghanistan, 19 years", the United States president said, imposing a new timeline on the American presence in Afghanistan, which, has been acknowledged officially as having lasted 17 years so far, starting in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Binaa favours close ties with Iran and is aligned with Tehran on regional political issues.

New Delhi, with billions of dollars in developmental investment, also banks on the US-led global coalition forces for much of its reconstruction effort in the country, which started years ago on the watch of president George W Bush and continue through president Barack Obama's tenure to president Trump.

Still, the USA and Iraq developed considerable military and intelligence ties in the war against IS, and they continue to pay dividends in operations against militants gone into hiding.

Earlier in the month, Iraqi forces called in an airstrike by USA -coalition forces to destroy a tunnel used by IS militants in the Atshanah mountains in north Iraq. The strike destroyed the tunnel entrance and killed four IS fighters, according to the US military in Baghdad. To rounds of applause he said that the USA was fighting in areas it shouldn't be fighting and spending billions on 19 years of war, a reference to the long war since 9/11.

Relations between the USA and Iraq also extend beyond military ties. US companies have considerable interests in Iraq's petrochemical industry, and American diplomats are often brokers between Iraq's fractious political elite.

Trump's visit wasn't about Iraq or the Middle East.

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