|Trump basically said US "owns" base in Iraq in CBS interview (CBS)|
Some of the major Iraqi parties are currently pushing bills that would require the U.S. military to leave Iraq. This is being champion by anti-American parties like the pro-Iran Fatah and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon. They have been pumping out propaganda that the U.S. has helped the Islamic State and is expanding its presence throughout the country. Two recent incidents have seemingly helped their cause. One was a U.S. patrol that walked past a Hashd unit in Mosul, and the other was President Trump saying that the U.S. would be staying in Iraq for the long term.
President Trump gave an interview with Face the Nation over the weekend where he said that the U.S. would be staying in Iraq. that the U.S. spent so much on a base it would keep it. The troops there would be used to watch Iran, which he said was a trouble maker in the region. This was widely seen as insulting by Iraqi politicians. It gave the impression that the U.S. could do whatever it wanted, which was an affront to Iraqi sovereignty. It also added fuel to the fire to those already opposed to the Americans.
Trump’s interview drew immediate responses from across the political spectrum in Iraq. that is funded by Iran said that Trump’s comments meant a new occupation of Iraq. The let it be known that it would not allow Iraq to be used to target its neighbors. They have made similar statements for months as they want to push through a withdrawal bill in parliament. On the other hand who is pro-western told Trump to mind his own business. The Anbar council also . That showed that the president’s thoughts were widely rejected by both those for and against the U.S.
|US troops walking past Babylon Brigades in Mosul (Iraq Newspaper)|
The president’s comments came a day after of an American unit walking through Mosul passing by a hostile Hashd al-Shaabi unit. The U.S. soldiers were reportedly marching past the Babylon Brigade, which is a Christian outfit close to pro-Iran groups Badr and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. This came after stories that thousands of U.S. troops from Syria as part of the withdrawal from there. Similarly there that the U.S. was moving in troops to the Mahawil district of Babil. These have all been officially denied, but the stories continue. A problem is that the Mahdi government has about how many troops the Americans have in Iraq or what they are doing because it knows the U.S. is unpopular with some segments of society and politics. That allows rumors to spread and actual situations like the one in Mosul to be blown out of proportion because the government is not being transparent.
Combined, these two events have increased the calls for the Americans to leave Iraq. A member of the parliamentary security committee that the body call Prime Minister Mahdi to appear and explain the U.S. presence. The foreign relations committee to the premier about the Americans. Finally, the head of Sadr’s movement that the country no longer needed the Americans now that it is secure and stable. There are already calling for a U.S. withdrawal as well. For now, these complaints and bills are mostly for propaganda purposes and to score political points. The problem is the U.S. appears to be completely oblivious to how it is being perceived in Iraq. If the Americans keep up with these actions it could lead to something much more serious.
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Iraq Newspaper, “Photos And Video Babylonian Christian Battalions Do Not Prevent US Troops From Roving In Mosul,” 2/1/19
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- “A US tour in Mosul provokes the crowd and threatens an armed clash,” 2/3/19
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