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Trump's Iraqi Plan Backfires

Updated on March 11, 2019

The American\Iraqi airbase at Ain al-Asad was built for millions of dollars in the 1980's by Yugoslavian firms under contract to the Iraqi government but built with mostly U.S. funds coming to $280 million. It was one of several "super bases" that were built meaning it was a self contained military and social entity (like a small town of 5000, with schools etc.). By 1991, its bomb shelters were considered obsolete and it was home to Iraqi MiG-21 and MiG-25 aircraft until 2003, when it was abandoned. The Americans seized it in 2003 and left by 2012. In 2014, Americans returned to retake it (which was abandoned) and found it just as it was left. From 2014 to today, Coalition forces numbering in the hundreds occupy it as it remains a key airbase in Anbar province.

Trump's Plan

In February, Trump indicated that the U.S. should keep the base in American control because of the $280 million spent on it (this was in the 80's, when America was on Saddam Hussein's side!) and because he would like to keep an eye on Iran. Back in December, he voiced the same thing while he visited there. What seemed like a innocent concept that makes sense to America, sent the Iraqi government leaders into a fury.

The Iraqis were furious for the dismissive attitude of Trump regarding the Iraqi leaders and their sovereignty. They were angry that POTUS snubbed them while in was in country and there was no meeting in Baghdad to discuss the matter and how the Iraqis felt about American troops. The Iraqi PM may still want some Americans there but he is more in the minority. Many religious and political leaders of their parties want the Americans out. One of the leaders of the Iraqi largest parties has introduced a resolution that calls for America to leave.

In 2005, with the help of the U.S., drafted the Iraqi constitution that ironically prohibits a foreign country from using Iraq territory to harm its neighbors! Iraqi is next door to Iran, which has a growing influence in Iraqi politics and society, just as they do in Syria and Lebanon. The Iraqi government does not want to be in the middle of a U.S. - Iran conflict because of the American presence. It is a touchy situation that Trump seems to not care about. Iraqi leaders are suspicious more now than ever about the real American intention, as their assistance to Iraqi troops is minimal.

Iraq has allowed limited American presence to remain there to fight ISIS, but now Trump has claimed they are defeated and gone, so, why are the 5000-6000 Americans in country? Trump has never even discussed the issue with Iraqi leaders.

In the end, Trump has caused strong opposition in the Iraqi government with his comments. What may happen is the a resolution is passed forcing the Americans out and leaving yet another vacuum. This would just allow Iran to fill it up and give them another friendly ally besides Syria and Lebanon.


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