Iraqi lawmakers criticize Trump's surprise visit as 'violation' of diplomatic norms: report

Some Iraqi lawmakers are criticizing President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE's surprise visit to Al Asad Air Base on Wednesday as a "violation" of diplomatic norms and Iraq's sovereignty, according to Reuters

Trump's visit to the base, which is west of Baghdad, was his first visit to troops in a combat zone as president. 


Some Iraqi politicians said they perceived the presidential visit as an act of aggression. 

The leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, Sabah al Saadi, called for the parliament to meet "to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump, who should know his limits," Reuters reported. 

"The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over," al Saadi reportedly added.

Islah's rival in Parliament, the Bina bloc, called Trump's visit a "flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms." 

"Trump’s visit … shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,” the Bina bloc said in a statement quoted by Reuters. 

Several lawmakers also reportedly took issue with Trump's request that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi meet him at the Al Asad Air Base. Mahdi originally had asked Trump to meet him in Baghdad, according to NPR.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a flight back from Iraq told reporters that Trump's scheduled meeting with Mahdi was canceled for "security and logistical reasons," according to a pool report.

Sanders later clarified that for security reasons, the White House was only able to invite the prime minister two hours before the scheduled time of the meeting and Mahdi was unable to attend because he was "in a different part of Iraq," according to a pool report later that evening.

Mahdi, in a statement, said the two spoke over the telephone following a “disagreement over how to conduct the meeting," according to Reuters.

Sanders said Trump, during the phone call, invited Mahdi to visit the White House and said the prime minister had accepted.

She added that Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump admin announces new restrictions on travel to Cuba Russia is gaining influence in Libya: How will Washington respond? Trump reverses policy, allows lawsuits against businesses in Cuba MORE is meeting with the Iraqi prime minister in Baghdad on Jan. 11.

Al Asad was an Iraqi air base until the U.S. invaded in 2003. The base is now central to the U.S. mission in the region, NPR noted. The more than 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are tasked with training and advising Iraqi forces in their campaign against the Islamic State. 

Iraqi politicians are split over whether they want the U.S. troops to remain in the region. 

Trump and first lady Melania Trump stayed at the base for about three hours. 

"I wanted to come and see Iraq," Trump said in remarks to the troops. "I wanted to come and pay my respects, most importantly, to the great soldiers, the great troopers that we have here."

The president added that he has "no plans" to pull troops from Iraq, as he has ordered in Syria.

— Updated 9:18 p.m.