Top Pentagon official’s announced trip to the Iraqi capital linked to the US troop presence there and the political dynamics in the region, Arab News reported. On Tuesday, the acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived Baghdad for the first time.
Patrick Shanahan’s visit to Iraq would emphasize the importance of Iraqi sovereignty and broach the issue of the future of US troops there. Top Pentagon’s schedule includes a meeting with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Mr Shanahan’s visit comes after President Trump said this month that a US presence was needed to observe Iran. “We are in Iraq at the invitation of the government and our interests are to build Iraqi security capability,” Shanahan told reporters during his onboard jet press conference.
According to the acting US Defense Secretary, he plans to hear first-hand from them about concerns, the political dynamics that they are facing and then based on that the US will obviously factor that into the planning. Among other issues, Patrick Shanahan will also discuss the withdrawal of US troops from Syria with US commanders.
the US President caused anger in Baghdad this month when he said it was important to keep a US military presence in Iraq so that Washington could keep a close eye on Iran “because Iran is a real problem.”
POTUS’ comments prompted almost universal criticism from Iraq’s leaders, including from the president and prime minister, and raised questions about the long-term presence of US troops in the country 16 years after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.