President Donald Trump used a White House
meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
to criticize both his immediate
predecessors’ military strategies in the
“Perhaps we shouldn’t have gone in, but
certainly we shouldn’t have left, we never
ever should have left and the vacuum was
created,” Trump said Monday during a photo
session with Abadi.
Trump made public comments in support of
President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of
Iraq then later said he opposed the military
operation. He criticized President Barack
Obama’s withdrawal of combat troops from
Iraq after the two countries failed to reach
an agreement to continue U.S. troops’
immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.
Abadi, the first Arab head of government
to meet with Trump since he took office, is
in Washington as the U.S. convenes a summit
with 68 nations fighting the Islamic State.
Trump praised the “very tough job” Iraqi
soldiers are performing as they battle to
re-take control of Mosul from the terrorist
organization. During the campaign, he called
the U.S.-backed offensive “a total
Abadi said afterward he was “happy” with
the discussion he had at the White House.
Trump gave assurances that the U.S. will
“accelerate” help for Iraq’s fight to regain
territory captured by Islamic State but the
U.S. president didn’t share a concrete plan,
Abadi said in a speech at the U.S. Institute
Trump also had planned to talk with Abadi
about relations with Iran, a White House
official said before the meeting.
Abadi’s regime, dominated by the same
Muslim Shiite sect as governs Iran,
maintains a close relationship with the
Iranian government and Iranian fighters are
assisting the Iraqi government in the
campaign against the Islamic State.
Trump has taken a more combative stance
toward Iran. Days after the administration
took over, then-Trump National Security
Adviser Mike Flynn public declared the U.S.
government was “officially putting Iran on
Trump’s ban on travel to the U.S. by
citizens of several mostly Muslim nations
initially provoked a political uproar in
Iraq but the controversy there subsided when
the administration dropped Iraq from the
nations covered in revised order. In
dropping Iraq from the list of nations
subject to a 90-day ban on entry to the
U.S., the Trump administration officials
cited assurances on the quality of
information for vetting Iraqis as well as
the military cooperation between the U.S.