How is Donald Trump seen in Iraq

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

Donald Trump is threatening Iraq with massive sanctions if US troops are deported

06.01.2020

US President Donald Trump has threatened Iraq with drastic sanctions if the government there expels US troops from the country. The Iraqi parliament had previously called on its own government to end its cooperation with the US-led international military coalition on Sunday against the background of the escalation of the conflict between the US and Iran. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) announced talks with the Iraqi government about the future of the Federal Armed Forces deployment there.

If the US troops were to be withdrawn by decision of the Iraqi government and not on the basis of an agreement between the two countries, the United States would impose sanctions on Iraq "as it has never seen the country before," threatened Trump. The US punitive measures imposed on Iran would then look "a little harmless" in comparison.

Speaking to reporters on board the presidential aircraft, Air Force One, the US President also said that before US soldiers withdraw, Iraq would have to pay for the US Army main base there: "We will not leave until they have paid us back for it . " Trump stated that this base was "very exceptionally expensive".

Previously, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had reacted somewhat more cautiously to the Iraqi parliamentary resolution. The Iraqi people want the United States to continue its "anti-terrorist campaign" in the country, he said.

The Iraqi parliament had passed a resolution calling on the government to terminate its agreement with the military coalition against the jihadist militia Islamic State (IS). Should the government comply with this request, it would result in the expulsion of all US troops and possibly also of other foreign units deployed in Iraq.

Maas therefore announced that he would speak to the Iraqi government "immediately". "Our overriding interest is that Iraq's stability and unity do not fall victim to the recent escalation," he said. According to the resolution of the Iraqi parliament, it should be clarified how the government there wants to "shape the future relationship". Maas emphasized that the federal government would "respect" every decision made by the Iraqi government.

The Federal Foreign Minister affirmed that Germany was ready to continue its military operations in Iraq if this was "desired" and "the situation allows". He called for the anti-IS coalition to meet as soon as possible and for a meeting of EU foreign ministers this week.

The Bundeswehr participates in the military coalition against IS both with tornado reconnaissance flights and Airbus tanker planes from Jordan and by training and advising Iraqi security forces.

Because of the extremely tense situation, the Bundeswehr temporarily stopped sending new soldiers to Iraq for training purposes. Inspector General Eberhard Zorn decided to suspend the regular change of contingents of German soldiers in Erbil, northern Iraq, announced the Bundeswehr operations command on Sunday evening.

The operational command had previously announced on Sunday that "these days" 30 soldiers from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania would fly to Erbil and then be distributed to their locations in Iraq. A little later the next 30 soldiers were to follow, also from northern Germany.

A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Defense said it was still unclear what should happen to the soldiers currently stationed on site who should return to Germany in exchange.

According to the operations command on Saturday, the German contingent currently comprises a total of 415 soldiers, of which almost 280 are stationed in Jordan and almost 140 in Iraq. The situation in Iraq has been extremely tense since the US targeted the influential Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on Friday using a drone attack. Tehran threatened retaliation. (AFP)