Trump’s Rubicon moment in Iraq: Praising America’s 'warriors,' ending wars

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US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet military personnel at the dining facility during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq December 26, 2018. The First Couple were on their way back from an army base in Iraq when they stopped to refuel and meet service members carrying MAGA hats who had waited up until 4am local time.

This is Trump's first visit to a conflict zone as president.

Iraqi officials said a planned meeting on Wednesday between Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was cancelled due to a disagreement over where it should take place.

After making a holiday visit to USA troops in Iraq, Donald Trump posted a video on Twitter of himself posing with Navy Seals - revealing the special ops team's deployment in the country, which is typically kept secret.

But the president has made disentangling America from its wars a priority since his 2016 election and he said in Iraq that the USA would no longer be treated as "suckers".

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the powerful Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia said on Twitter, "Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces".

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"The men and women stationed at Al Asad have played a vital role in the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria", Trump said inside a hangar in Iraq, earning cheers from a crowd of uniformed troops gathered to hear his remarks. The US "cannot continue to be the policeman of the world", he told troops at the Iraqi base. "You would have see what we had to go through in the darkened plane with all windows closed with no light anywhere", he said.

Trump hasn't said anything in the past week about the USA presence in Iraq, where some 5000 American troops remain, assisting Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the north in the effort to secure the nation from the threat of the Islamic State.

But as a number of U.S. commentators noted, armed forces personnel have in fact received a pay rise in each of the past 10 years. "First time in 10 years", he said.

Islah is headed by Moqtada al-Sadr Sadr who has long opposed the U.S. presence in Iraq since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. "They don't pay for it and they're going to have to".

Politicians from both blocs of Iraq's divided parliament on Thursday called for a vote to expel USA troops and promised to schedule an extraordinary session to debate the matter.

Qais Khazali, the head of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia that fought key battles against IS in north Iraq, promised on Twitter that parliament would vote to expel USA forces from Iraq, or the militia and others would force them out by "other means".

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Trump began by laying out that he had "no plans at all" to reduce the substantial USA presence in Iraq and underscored his willingness to launch more military operations in the future.

Donald Trump has made a surprise visit to Iraq visited Iraq after 705 days into his presidency.

However, the president has made disentangling America from its wars a priority since his 2016 election and he said in Iraq that the U.S. would no longer be treated as "suckers", CNN reported.

Trump posed for a selfie with Navy Lieutenant Commander Kyu Lee, who said he was the chaplain for Seal Team Five, based out of Coronado, California, the report said.

The president has been sceptical of United States interventions abroad, in broad disagreement to Republican thinking but in agreement with a marginal Libertarian fringe of the party, and ran his campaign opposing overseas wars.

What is Trump's strategy for the region and what message is he trying to send? Many fear that the United States withdrawal could allow IS to regroup and strengthen, with Turkey more interested in fighting the Kurdish forces, which it sees as a danger to its own national interests.

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