An impromptu Christmas visit to troops stationed in Iraq made for some great photo ops for US President Donald Trump, but Iraqis outside of the American military installation were not amused.
The unannounced visit came amid a domestic backlash against foreign influence in the country, and reportedly prompted harsh criticism from Iraqi lawmakers.
Specifically, Trump’s suggestion in public comments while on the trip that Iraq could become a staging ground for future US operations in Syria struck a nerve as Iraqi elected officials stress the need for greater sovereignty.
Officials from both main political factions in Iraq are now calling for a vote in Parliament to oust US military forces from the country, The Associated Press reports.
“Iraq should not be a platform for the Americans to settle their accounts with either the Russians or the Iranians in the region,” said Hakim al-Zamili, a senior lawmaker from the Islah political faction, one of Iraq’s two main blocs.
“Trump needs to know his limits. The American occupation of Iraq is over,” Sabah al-Saidi, the head of Islah, was quoted as saying. The US president casually stopped over in Iraq “as though Iraq is a state of the United States,” al-Saidi added.
While Trump was originally slated to have a face-to-face with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on his trip, the meeting was canceled due to “difference in points of view” regarding arrangements.