Trump threatens sanctions on Iraq | Daily News


 

Trump threatens sanctions on Iraq

Iraqi demonstrators block a road with burning tyres in the central shrine city of Najaf on Sunday to protest turning the country into an arena for US-Iran conflicts. Iraq’s Parliament voted on Sunday calling on US troops stationed in Iraq to leave the country.- AFP

Iraqi demonstrators block a road with burning tyres in the central shrine city of Najaf on Sunday to protest turning the country into an arena for US-Iran conflicts. Iraq’s Parliament voted on Sunday calling on US troops stationed in Iraq to leave the country.- AFP

US: US President Donald Trump threatened sanctions against Baghdad on Sunday after Iraq’s parliament called on US troops to leave the country, and the president said if troops did leave, Baghdad would have to pay Washington for the cost of the air base there.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build, long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One.

Trump said that if Iraq asked US forces to leave and it was not done on a friendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”


US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron, walk across the South Lawn after arriving on Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC on Sunday, as they returned from their holidays at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. - AFP

Iraq’s Parliament on Sunday urged the government to remove thousands of American troops from the country, stepping up pressure over the US killing of a top Iranian general in Baghdad.

US installations were also facing new military stresses, with missiles slamming into the Baghdad enclave where the US embassy is located and an air base north of the capital housing American troops.

Ties have deteriorated after an American precision drone strike on the Baghdad international airport on Friday that killed Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani and top Iraqi military figure Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador, while caretaker premier Adel Abdel Mahdi attended an extraordinary parliamentary session to slam the strike as a “political assassination.”

He joined 168 lawmakers — just enough for quorum in Iraq’s 329-seat parliament — to discuss the removal of US troops.

Some 5,200 US soldiers are stationed across Iraqi bases to support local troops preventing a resurgence of Daesh.

They are deployed as part of the broader international coalition, invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to help fight Daesh.

“The parliament has voted to commit the Iraqi government to cancel its request to the international coalition for help to fight IS,” speaker Mohammed Halbusi announced, using another acronym for Daesh.

The cabinet would have to approve any decision but the premier had earlier indicated support for a removal.

“We face two main choices,” he told MPs: either immediately voting for foreign troops to leave or revisiting their mandate through a parliamentary process.

Hard-line parliamentarians with ties to the Hashed Al-Shaabi military force, which is close to Iran, had demanded a tougher decision calling for the immediate expulsion of all foreign troops.

No Kurdish and most Sunni MPs boycotted the session as they were more supportive of a US troop presence, seen as a counterweight to Iran.

They had been threatened by Hashed-linked MPs, who said they would be seen as having “betrayed” Iraq if they boycotted.

Tom Warrick, a former US official and current fellow at the Atlantic Council, said Soleimani and pro-Iran factions within the Hashed had long sought the US’s exit.

“If US forces do end up withdrawing, it could grant Soleimani a post-humous victory,” Warrick told AFP.

As the session got under way, the US-led coalition announced it was suspending its Iraq operations due to deadly rocket attacks on their bases.

“This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” it said.

There had been fears of a volley of rocket attacks following a warning from a hard-line Hashed faction for Iraqis to move away from US forces by Sunday afternoon.

- ARAB NEWS


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