Apparently having already forgotten how their country came to be liberated from the brutal, murderous dictatorship of Mr. Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s political and military leaders slammed President Donald Trump this week for his surprise visit to meet with the U.S. troops stationed there. In remarks that echo the kind of nonsensical rhetoric we hear from caravan migrants who think the United States owes them a place to live, Iraqi politicians condemned the president for violating their country’s “sovereignty” and warning that American “occupation” in Iraq was over.
Sounds like a country that would like to fend off ISIS and Iran for themselves!
Sabah al Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of parliament “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.”
The Bina bloc, Islah’s rival in parliament and led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, also objected to Trump’s trip to Iraq.
“Trump’s visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,” said a statement from Bina.
For those behind the times when it comes to the intricacies of the flailing Iraqi government, the Islah and the Bina are the two, um, “parties,” jockeying for control of the country. The Islah are Shi’ite revolutionaries, and their leader is cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who was responsible for two violent uprisings against the U.S. troops. They are closely aligned with Tehran, which has been trying for years to turn Iraq into an outpost for Iran.
This is something the U.S. is eager to block, and our presence there is as much about preventing Tehran’s expansion as it is about stomping out the last remnants of ISIS.
We don’t begrudge Iraq for wanting to govern themselves, and we can understand why a longterm American military presence in the country can serve as a useful political tool for populists – especially those who are more or less aligned with Iran. And especially so for those who adhere to their own form of fundamentalist Islam.
At the same time, let’s be perfectly clear about this: To the extent Iraq is a democratic country today, they owe their entire existence to the United States. To hear them complain about destruction and occupation is akin to blaming the firefighters who saved your house for leaving muddy footprints on your carpet. Gee, perhaps you would have preferred being gassed by your psychotic dictator? Maybe you would have liked to have been crucified in Mosul?
Much of this sniping is probably meant for a domestic Iraqi audience, but it should serve as a stiff reminder to American voters why our Middle Eastern military excursions are rarely as successful as we might hope at the outset. And why President Trump is absolutely right to rethink our continued presence in Syria, Afghanistan, and yes, perhaps even Iraq.