Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s brief, unannounced, and photo-op-filled visit to American troops still stationed in Iraq more than 15 years after the 2003 invasion—which estimates suggest ultimately killed over a million people—Iraqi political leaders issued statements late Wednesday condemning Trump’s surprise arrival as “a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms.”
Bina, one of Iraq’s major parliamentary blocs, said Trump’s visit “shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government.”
“The American leadership was defeated in Iraq and wants to return again under any pretext, and this is what we will never allow,” declared Falih Khazali, an Iraqi politician aligned with Bina.
Sabah al Saadi, the leader of Islah—Bina’s parliamentary rival—agreed, demanding an emergency session “to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over.”
Despite the official pronouncements from American presidents that the Iraq War is over, more than 5,000 U.S. troops remain in the country.
In remarks during his trip on Wednesday, Trump said he has “no plans at all” to withdraw troops from Iraq—a vow that comes just days after reports that the U.S. president is taking steps to pull American forces out of Syria and Afghanistan.
While Trump’s visit was met with jingoistic fervor by American troops—who reportedly chanted “USA!” and blasted Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA” as the president arrived at the Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq—ordinary Iraqis hardly shared this enthusiasm.
“We won’t get anything from America,” Baghdad resident Mohammad Abdullah told Reuters. “They’ve been in Iraq 16 years, and they haven’t given anything to the country except destruction and devastation.”