Trump returns to United States from surprise trip to Iraq

Trump returns to United States from surprise trip to Iraq

President Donald Trump is defending his decision to autograph Make America Great Again hats for USA troops in Germany.

The Trump administration had been secretly planning an overseas trip for the president and first lady Melania Trump for Wednesday. Few in Iraq or elsewhere knew the USA president was in the country until minutes before he left.

"I tried not to because I was with my family, but when we turned on CNN and we saw the president politicizing a Christmas message, it was like- we kept saying, 'He's like the Grinch.' I'm being honest", Lemon said on "CNN Tonight".

CNN's overwhelmingly negative reporting drew attention to some troops bringing MAGA hats for the president to sign and how this may be against the guidelines, which forbids active members of the military from participating in "political activities". "The American occupation of Iraq is over", said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of one of two main blocs in Iraq's parliament.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Wednesday on Fox News' "The Story" that the mainstream media outlets who prematurely jumped on Trump for not visiting the troops would only end up helping Trump.

"There was supposed to be a formal reception and a meeting between Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and the US President, but a variation of views to organize the meeting led it to be replaced by a telephone conversation on developments in the situation", the statement read. But now he's done just that, slipping into Iraq in darkness for a visit of three-plus hours. Trump also stopped in Germany on his way back to greet troops at a USA air base.

US troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State group.

The suggestion ran counter to the current sentiment of Iraqi politics, which favors claiming sovereignty over foreign and domestic policy and staying above the fray in regional conflicts.

While there has been no full-scale violence in Iraq since Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant group suffered a series of defeats past year, about 5,200 US troops train and advise Iraqi forces still waging a campaign against the group. American forces withdrew in 2011 after invading in 2003 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the Iraqi government to help fight the jihadist group.

McCaffrey noted that US troops were deployed to Iraq on "very shaky diplomatic standing", warning that Trump's belligerent comments could upset the sensitive political-military balance in the country.

However, it remains unclear if air operations targeting ISIS will continue after a USA pullout of forces. Al-Sadr has called for curbing US and Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs.

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