What is Trump's strategy for Syria and the region?

Donald Trump visits US troops in Iraq for first trip to a conflict zone

Trump visits U.S. troops in Iraq, his first trip as president to a combat zone

US President Donald Trump kisses first lady Melania Trump during a hanger rally at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, on December 26, 2018.

US President Donald Trump made his first trip to Iraq, spending a few hours with US troops at al-Asad airbase, west of Baghdad.

President Trump spoke with Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi before his visit, but they could not come to an agreement on a meeting, due to some sort of disagreement over where the meeting would take place.

The head of the pro-Iran Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, Qais al-Khazali, tweeted that "Trump's visit to a U.S. military base without regard for diplomatic norms reveals the reality of the American project in Iraq". "The United States can not continue to be the policeman of the world", he repeated to reporters, describing a long-term vision of detached isolationism embodied by his controversial decision last week to pull thousands of USA troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Many fear that the USA 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.

Sabah al-Saadi, who leads the Shia Muslim parliamentary bloc Islah, called it a "blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty". It's not entirely clear when Trump planned the visit, whether he chose to go after the decision to leave Syria on December 19, or before.

The head of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq pro-Iran paramilitary group, Qais al-Khazali, tweeted that "Trump´s visit to a United States military base without regard for diplomatic norms reveals the reality of the American project in Iraq".

Trump's visit follows his surprise decision to withdraw all 2,000 American troops in neighbouring Syria and half of the 14,000 United States soldiers deployed in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.

Trump had come under intense criticism for not visiting USA troops fighting overseas, even though he speaks frequently about his support for the military.

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He later added, "They had plenty of people that came up, they said, 'You know, we could make it smaller".

"Arrogant" and an "a violation of national sovereignty" were but a few examples of the criticism emanating from Baghdad following Trump's meeting Wednesday with US servicemen and women at the al-Asad Airbase.

The Pentagon has also said the United States will withdraw about half of the 14,000 troops participating in the worldwide stabilization mission in Afghanistan.

Trump posted the video to his Twitter account from Air Force One after the plane left Iraqi air space. I said, "Nope". You can't have any more time.

Trump has previously said he had a legitimate bone-spur diagnosis, though he has never provided any documentation.

"The American occupation of Iraq is over", al-Saida said.

"I had concerns for the institution of the presidency, not for myself personally", he said. While 5,000 U.S. troops are now there, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle demanded that they leave on the grounds that his spontaneous appearance was arrogant and violated their nation's sovereignty, according to the Associated Press.

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