Trump administration officials begin drafting potential Iraq sanctions after Trump threat: report

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Senior administration officials have reportedly begun drawing up potential economic sanctions against Iraq in the wake of President Trump’s threat to impose sanctions should the country force American troops to withdraw.

The talks regarding possible sanctions are in preliminary stages, The Washington Post reported, citing three officials briefed on the planning. The officials stressed that no final decision has been made regarding economic penalties. One said that the plan was to wait “at least a little while” to see if Iraq followed through with its calls to expel U.S. troops from the country. 

The officials added that the Treasury Department and the White House would orchestrate the sanctions effort on Iraq, a foreign ally the U.S. has invested billions supporting, if it were to move forward. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. The Treasury Department declined to comment.

The reported talks come as the Trump administration deals with the fallout from president’s decision to order an airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful officials in Iran and the leader of its elite Quds Force, in Baghdad, Iraq. Iranian officials have vowed to retaliate. On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of a nonbinding resolution that calls on the government to work toward ending U.S. troop presence in the country. 

Thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq as part of an operation targeting ISIS. 

Trump vehemently denounced the Iraqi Parliament’s resolution, telling reporters on Air Force One on Sunday that the U.S. would “charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before” if U.S. troop withdrawals were not initiated in a “friendly” manner. 

“If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq,” Trump added.

It remains unclear how the Iraqi government and the Trump administration will proceed in the wake of a parliamentary resolution on U.S. troop presence. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday denied that U.S. troops would withdraw from Iraq after a letter circulated online suggested otherwise. 

“That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released,” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. “Poorly worded, implies withdrawal. That’s not what’s happening.”

Tags Donald Trump Iran Iran strike Iraq Mark Esper

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