Trump's very first visit to the troops stirs up trouble in Iraq

Abdul-Mahdi's office did not say whether he had accepted Trump's invitation to visit Washington, and attributed the missed connection to "differences in points of view over the arrangements".

Trump's visit to Iraq did not clarify his administration's position in the Middle East so much as underscore his apparently competing desires to both withdraw from the world and to project military power and strength.

"The excuse made the initial infraction all the worse", said Haddad.

The United States is now engaged in peace talks with the hope of ending a long-running stalemate between a resurgent Taliban and the Afghan government forces that Washington backs.

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

One of the biggest rifts was caused by his sudden decision last week - against the advice of James Mattis, who quit as defence secretary as a result - to pull all U.S. forces out of Syria.

First Lady Melania Trump accompanied him on the surprise trip.

He defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria during the visit, saying: "A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking".

Trump has made disentangling the USA from its wars a priority since his 2016 election.

"The United States can not continue to be the policeman of the world", Trump told reporters soon after he addressed American soldiers.

Trump's decision to go to Iraq the day after Christmas is part of an attempt to change the narrative after being slammed for his reversal of Syrian policy and accusations that he made the decision without consulting the Pentagon or State Department.

"Iraq is important because of its strategic location".

Image Mr Trump and his wife Melania took
Image Mr Trump and his wife Melania took

The US presence in Syria was not meant to be "open-ended", he said, adding that other wealthy nations should pay for rebuilding Syria.

Morale-boosting presidential visits to USA troops in war zones have been a longstanding tradition in the years following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The US, backed by the United Kingdom, invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext that the former regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The US military presence was largely unwelcome for years, until Washington created the worldwide coalition to defeat IS in 2014 and helped erase the militants' "caliphate".

As soon as Trump touched down in Iraq yesterday afternoon, many people within the media as well as former army personnel, began questioning why Trump did not meet with Iraqi leadership while in Iraq.

Those groups were angered by Trump's visit.

Trump has also wanted to end protracted United States involvement in overseas conflicts, and to force allies to pay more for the costs that he says fall disproportionately on American taxpayers, a point he made again on Wednesday.

He announced the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria last week.

"Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces".

The raise for the military that was approved in Trump's first year in office was 2.4 percent, for 2018.

"A public display of affection between Trump and Melania is a rare event and this cheek kiss looks awkward and lacking in symmetry", said body language expert Judi James.

  • Rogelio Becker