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The Anti-Trump Backlash in Iraq Keeps Growing

The Iraqi backlash [1] against Trump’s comments that U.S. forces will stay in Iraq to “watch” Iran continues to grow [2]. Tamer El-Ghobashy explains:

Iraq’s top Shiite religious authority added his voice Wednesday to the chorus of criticism of President Trump’s plan to have U.S. troops stationed in Iraq “watch” neighboring Iran, raising fresh concerns that the idea is imperiling the fight against the Islamic State.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani broke tradition by commenting directly on Trump’s proposal — a move that is likely to put pressure on Iraq’s leadership to address the U.S. president’s comments, which have rankled both allies and foes.

“Iraq . . . refuses to be a station used to harm any other country,” said Sistani, an extremely influential figure who typically delivers his opinions privately through intermediaries or through a representative during Friday prayer sermons.

It is a measure of how unpopular and insulting Trump’s remarks were in Iraq that Sistani chose to respond directly to them. Opposition to a continued U.S. military presence has been steadily increasing, and Trump’s comments have given a huge boost to those demanding that U.S. forces leave the country. Fortunately, the proposal to keep troops there to “watch” Iran appears to be doomed because of the intensity of Iraqi opposition. Iraqis don’t intend for their country to be used for someone else’s agenda, and their government understandably has no desire to quarrel with their largest neighbor and trading partner. That is a normal, healthy, and completely predictable reaction, so of course Trump and his officials never saw it coming.

Trump and his officials seem to think they can treat Iraq as though it were a province instead of an independent state, and to make things worse they don’t understand why that arrogant attitude would be overwhelmingly rejected. At least one top U.S. official professes to be shocked by the backlash, which tells us that the administration is even more clueless than we thought:

The president and his officials assume that everyone else in the region shares their obsession with Iran, but it isn’t true. Their tendency to view every regional issue primarily in terms of Iran’s involvement and how to counter Iran inevitably puts them at odds with other governments in the region that have their own interests and concerns that can’t be reduced to hostility towards one country. That is why the administration’s bankrupt Iran policy will continue failing, and it seems likely to generate more resentment and anti-Americanism throughout the region.

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8 Comments To "The Anti-Trump Backlash in Iraq Keeps Growing"

#1 Comment By SteveM On February 6, 2019 @ 12:54 pm

The president and his officials assume that everyone else in the region shares their obsession with Iran, but it isn’t true. Their tendency to view every regional issue primarily in terms of Iran’s involvement and how to counter Iran inevitably puts them at odds with other governments in the region that have their own interests and concerns that can’t be reduced to hostility towards one country. That is why the administration’s bankrupt Iran policy will continue failing, and it seems likely to generate more resentment and anti-Americanism throughout the region.

Daniel, replace “Iran” with “Russia” and notice that you have a pattern.

Anybody who thinks that Trump has been in any way seduced into foreign policy prudence is sadly mistaken. The retreats from Afghanistan and Syria are merely tactical moves by the Global Cop Gorilla so that it can better focus its War Machine on other targets, (Iran, Russia, China, whack-a-mole countries in Africa and Eurasia).

And it is without a doubt actually a less than zero-sum strategy for the taxpayers. Because feeding the Gorilla’s insatiable appetite to contrive and confront new “threats to national security” will continue unabated.

#2 Comment By Get Us Out Of There For God’s Sake On February 6, 2019 @ 3:01 pm

“likely to generate more resentment and anti-Americanism throughout the region”

Between arming Al Qaeda ( [5] ), starving and bombing Yemeni children, kicking the long-suffering Palestinians, and now infuriating long-suffering Iraqis who want us out of the country we helped wreck, one can be forgiven for thinking that Trump is trying to provoke more terror attacks against Americans and other western countries.

#3 Comment By Mark B. On February 6, 2019 @ 4:01 pm

When it comes to Iraq, the Iranians must love the US, whether they are hawk or moderate. The Sunni ruled Arab buffer called Iraq that prevented Iran playing a significant role in the Arab world for so long suddenly tore apart and then handed on a silver plate to them as their vazal state with a political awakened Shia majority.

American suckers.

#4 Comment By Clyde Schechter On February 6, 2019 @ 5:05 pm

“The retreats from Afghanistan and Syria are merely tactical moves…”

I’d be overjoyed if they were even that. In reality, all they are is empty promises, and there is little reason to think they will be kept. Every time the subject of Syria comes up a new excuse to delay withdrawal is brought up. As for Afghanistan, yes, it is hopeful that we are in talks with the Taliban. But we have been there before: Obama held talks with the Taliban, too, but they bore no fruit.

When it comes to actual actions to show restraint, Trump’s score so far is zero. And with Pompeo and Bolton there that is unlikely to change. In fact, I think they are just counting down the days to the invasion of Iran, and maybe Venezuela.

#5 Comment By Vermin Festival On February 6, 2019 @ 8:27 pm

Pompeo and Bolton want more terror attacks against America, and this behavior is part o a pattern of recent US behavior calculated to provoke them.

It’s been too long, and the American people are sick of the never-ending conflict over there. So Pompeo and Bolton need justification for the next steps required to wreck more Muslim countries for Israel, and in particular to start a war with Iran.

#6 Comment By furbo On February 7, 2019 @ 6:05 am

Personally, I’d be happy to get out of Iraq. The only reason we’re currently there is because the great Shi’a Iraqi Army literally abandoned their weapons, ran from the battlefield like little girls and surrendered the N. third of their country to a gang of murderous Sunni thugs and we felt a bit obligated because…well, yeah, we did tear the country apart so we came back. Fine, lets leave, you’re on your own from here. Aaaand yes, the winner of the Iraq war was ….Iran.

#7 Comment By downhill racer On February 8, 2019 @ 4:23 pm

The anti-Trump backlash is growing here in America too. I voted for him in 2016, and I wish I could vote him out right now.

#8 Comment By ed On February 8, 2019 @ 9:43 pm

I suspect Trump made those remarks in hope that the Iraqi’s would be pissed and kick us out. That way he doesn’t have to deal with backlash he gets from his own cabinet, generals and MSM when he proposes that we leave.