UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday paid a surprise visit to Iraq, during which he inspected US forces and held talks with officials of the Kurdistan region without meeting Iraqi officials in Baghdad. Mass protests continue in Iraq, which has killed some 350 people since it erupted on October 1.
In a surprise visit to Iraq on Saturday, US Vice President Mike Pence inspected his country’s forces in Iraq and met with Kurdish officials from the Kurdistan region, excluding central authority officials in Baghdad. Popular protests continue against the political class, which also affected influential Iran in Mesopotamia, and Washington has remained largely silent about it.
More than 350 people have been killed in ongoing demonstrations in Baghdad and several parts of southern Iraq since it erupted on October 1. The last of those killed in clashes with security forces in Baghdad, bringing the number of those who died in the capital since Wednesday night to Thursday to nine.
Discussing developments in Iraq
On his first visit to Iraq, Pence landed on a military plane at the base of Ain al-Assad in the western province of Anbar around noon local time. After that, the US Vice President made a phone call to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, before moving to the city of Erbil, the center of the northern Kurdistan region, where he met with the President of the region, Nechirvan Barzani.
Pence is the highest-ranking US official to visit Mesopotamia since President Donald Trump’s visit in late December 2018, which was limited to spending a few hours with US forces at the base of Assad’s eye. Trump’s visit sparked controversy as it did not include any Iraqi officials.
Pence posted photos on Twitter with his wife Karen and soldiers during the visit, which comes ahead of the Americans’ Thanksgiving holiday next week.
Pence discussed in his contact with Abdul-Mahdi, “the strengthening of relations between the two countries and prospects for joint cooperation, as well as discussing developments in Iraq and the efforts of the government and reform measures in response to the demands of the demonstrators,” according to the Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister.
The same source explained that the visit was the knowledge of Abdul-Mahdi, as was the decision Pence visit Erbil. In contrast, the office of Iraqi President Barham Saleh, a Kurd, told Agence France-Presse that he was not aware of the visit beforehand. Pence moved from the military base in Anbar to Erbil, where he held a meeting with the President and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani.
“Is not welcome in the land of Iraq”
and committed the administration of President Trump silence is largely about the protests unprecedented against the regime contributed to the dock , after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein ‘s rule in 2003. The United States after the invasion to dissolve the majority of the state apparatus and rebuilt, so that came to power layer new political elites with whom they have forged close personal connections. It also began building a new army and deployed more than 170,000 troops in Iraq at the height of its military presence before the withdrawal in 2011.
Since then, US forces have played a decisive role in defeating the Islamic State, which took control of large swathes of the country in 2014, before declaring a final “victory” in late 2017. Of these, 5,200 remain in bases in Iraq, As part of the international coalition against the Islamic State led by Washington. They also work in training and advising Iraqi forces.
A senior Iraqi official, who asked not to be identified in previous statements to Agence France-Presse, “The gap between Iraq and America was not as large as it has now, and is still growing.”
Pence’s visit also comes after leaking hundreds of Iranian intelligence reports showing the depth of Tehran’s influence in Iraq. The United States has already announced, through Pence, the imposition of sanctions on leaders of Iraqi armed factions close to Iran, including Ryan Chaldean, Secretary-General of the Brigades, “Babylon”.
The latter commented on the visit by saying, “Twitter”, “to the US Vice President who arrived surreptitiously in Iraq … … Our people who expelled your occupation by blood, does not want a future painted by killing, displacement and theft. Not welcome in the land of Iraq.”
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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