Trumps' 'Awkward' Kiss, Melania's Boots Steal the Show During Iraq Visit

Cristina Cross
December 28, 2018

US President Donald Trump kisses first lady Melania Trump during a hanger rally at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, on December 26, 2018. The First Couple were on their way back from an army base in Iraq when they stopped to refuel and meet service members carrying MAGA hats who had waited up until 4am local time.

President Donald Trump has defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and on Wednesday signalled during his first visit to U.S. troops serving in a conflict zone, Iraq, his unhappiness with the deployment in Afghanistan, now the longest in American history.

Iraqi MPs told Reuters news agency that Mr Trump had asked for the meeting to take place at the al-Asad military base, an offer declined by the prime minister. In the region the visit will be judged as Trump sticking by his Syria decision and seeking to reduce the United States footprint.

He acknowledged security concerns about visiting Iraq, saying it was "pretty sad" that he needed such secrecy to see USA troops.

"We're no longer the suckers, folks". No other top officials or members of Congress were along. 'The United States can not continue to be the policeman of the world, ' he added.

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The move was taken following a telephone call with President Erdogan of Turkey, with an apparent deal struck that would see the Turkish military handle the remnants of Islamic State, freeing up some 2,200 largely U.S. special forces to head for the exit. In addition, according to news reports, the president is expected to withdraw 7,000 of the 14,000 USA troops in Afghanistan.

Despite the wide grins and supportive cheers from his audience, the trip comes at a time of growing turmoil for the president at home and overseas.

Revealing identities "even if it's the commander-in-chief, would prove a propaganda boom if any of this personnel are detained by a hostile government or captured by a terrorist group", Malcolm Nance, a former US Navy intelligence specialist told Newsweek.

During the call, Trump invited Abdel Mahdi to visit Washington and he accepted, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

But as he visited Iraq on Wednesday, Trump had a very different message - again, a real contrast to Obama's message nine years before - to the roughly 5,200 US troops now deployed in Iraq. Al-Sadr has called for curbing US and Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs. On December 19, the USA leader announced his decision to start pulling out American troops from Syria, stressing that the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) had been defeated and this was the only reason why the U.S. forces had remained there under his presidency.

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Iraqi lawmaker, Hakim al-Zamili, speaks to the media during press conference, in Baghdad, April 18, 2016. "We could use this as a base if we wanted to do something in Syria", the President said.

"I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds", said Trump, who wore an olive green bomber style jacket as he was welcomed by chants of "USA!" More than 10 years. Again, it was his first visit as commander in chief, though he had also visited Iraq in July 2008 as a USA senator while campaigning for president.

"If you would have seen what we had to go through in the darkened plane with all windows closed with no light anywhere - pitch black", he said.

Trump's decision to go to Iraq the day after Christmas is part of an attempt to change the narrative after being slammed for his reversal of Syrian policy and accusations that he made the decision without consulting the Pentagon or State Department.

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