President Donald Trump is resorting to bullying tactics to force Iraq into allowing American troops to remain in the country despite the fact that the Iraqis no longer want us there.
As a result of his order to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Suleimani at the Baghdad airport, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of kicking the United States military out of their country.
Currently, there are 5,000 troops in Iraq fighting against ISIS, a fight they had to suspend to prepare for potential war with Iran after Trump’s foolish escalation of hostilities.
But Iraq does not want war with Iran and they certainly don’t want such a war fought on their soil, so they have a sovereign right to boot us out.
And if we want to maintain a friendly relationship with the Iraqis, a withdrawal should occur as soon as possible. After all, Trump and the Pentagon must accept the consequences of killing Suleimani, regardless of whether the Pentagon meant for Trump to order the assassination or not.
But instead of agreeing to withdraw, Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions.
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there,” Trump told reporters last week. “It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it. We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before, ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
The Iraqis built the airport Trump is referencing back in the 1980s, and threatening sanctions is not how one should treat a friend and ally.
Rather than back down from his threat, Trump is now threatening to hurt Iraq in another way by denying them access to their own oil money.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the State Department warned the Iraqi government that they will lose access to their account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York if they continue to insist that American troops must be withdrawn.
“Iraq, like other countries, maintains government accounts at the New York Fed as an important part of managing the country’s finances, including revenue from oil sales,” the Wall Street Journal noted. “Loss of access to the accounts could restrict Iraq’s use of that revenue, creating a cash crunch in Iraq’s financial system and constricting a critical lubricant for the economy.”
Just like Trump tried to extort Ukraine into digging up dirt on a political rival, Trump is extorting Iraq to let the American occupation of their country continue. It’s pure blackmail, and many voiced their disgust on Twitter and warned that Trump is only making things worse.
U.S. Warns Iraq It Risks Losing Access to Key Bank Account if Troops Told to Leave – WSJ—- (Hard to imagine the legality of economic sanctions against a sovereign Gov asking US forces to leave. Occupation army of 5000 US troops?) https://t.co/OCkCrzeohN
— Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) January 12, 2020
US using Mafia tactics to pressure Iraq into maintaining their occupation.
— Syrian Girl ???? (@Partisangirl) January 12, 2020
A logical extension of America First to America the Bully. Depressing and demoralizing, but also counter-productive. https://t.co/TGGhutpRmB
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 11, 2020
Trump administration warns Iraq it risks losing access to its account at the New York Fed if it forces US troops to leave.
This is exactly why people come to hate the United States. We can’t just bully the world all the time and not expect a backlash. https://t.co/9v4ITBUxaP
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 11, 2020
Risk to US over time from strong arm tactics – diminishing our special role in the international financial system as countries view as unreliable. https://t.co/DhpW0PwHb0
— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) January 11, 2020
Iraq now knows that Trump and the United States cannot be trusted to be an ally and this will likely drive them closer to Iran, which is not an outcome that will improve our own national security, nor will it improve the security of the Middle East.
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