Angry Iraqi lawmakers demand United States withdrawal

US President Donald Trump made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Wednesday to greet US troops who have stayed on in the country following a 2003 US-led invasion to help its government fight extremists.

During his three-plus hours on the ground, Trump did not meet with any Iraqi officials, but spoke on the phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

But critics have condemned what they see as the president's increasingly isolationist foreign policy, saying it will give ISIL a chance to regroup.

"Arrogant" and an "a violation of national sovereignty" were but a few examples of the criticism emanating from Baghdad following Trump's meeting Wednesday with USA servicemen and women at the al-Asad Airbase.

Mr Trump is planning to pull half of the 14,000 United States military from Afghanistan, but U.S. forces are set to stay in Iraq. Trump sought to highlight the achievements of the four year war on ISIS, including what he said was the liberation of 20,000 square miles of territory and 3 million civilians.

Trump ran for the presidency in 2016 on a platform of bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and Syria, part of a strategy of ending almost two decades of U.S. military interventions he criticized as costly, ineffective and at odds with his "America First" foreign policy.

"I got you a big one", Trump told the U.S. troops at Al Asad Air Base on Wednesday, according to CNN.

He said: "If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price - and sometimes that's also a monetary price - so we're not the suckers of the world".

Israel does a fine job of defending itself thanks to aid from the United States, and will be "good" after US troops leave Syria, President Trump said. USA forces reentered Iraq in 2014 after the Islamic State established a self-declared caliphate in Syria and swept through Iraq, reaching the outskirts of the capital, Baghdad.

However, it was not only his political statements that stirred hot debate in the United States: another Boxing Day newsmaker was the First Lady, specifically her footwear choice and her kiss with the hubby, which some observers called "ridiculous".

Trump said his main security concern was for the first lady and related how Air Force One took special precautions when landing in Iraq.

US troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State group.

Trump said it's time to leave Syria because the USA should not be involved in nation-building, and that other wealthy nations should shoulder the cost of rebuilding Syria. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about.

He told The Associated Press in an interview in October that he "will do that at some point, but I don't think it's overly necessary". Meanwhile, Bill Clinton visited troops in Bosnia in 1996 and spent Thanksgiving with troops in Kosovo in 1999, while George H.W. Bush spent Thanksgiving with service members in Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield in 1990 and New Year's with troops in Somalia in 1993. The last US service member to die in Iraq was in August, as the result of a helicopter crash in Sinjar.

According to Trump, the flight into Iraq was unlike anything he'd previously experienced.

  • Tracy Klein