‘US no longer world’s policeman’

BAGHDAD: US President Donald Trump has confirmed his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and said that his country cannot be the world’s policeman in a surprise visit to troops deployed in Iraq.
Trump made his remarks to reporters after arriving with first lady Melania Trump at Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq on his first trip as president to visit troops abroad.
Trump was looking for some positive headlines after several days of turmoil over his decisions to withdraw the 2,000 US troops in Syria, pull out half of the 14,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan and push out Defence Secretary James Mattis for criticising his policies.
Accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump and speaking at the Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, Trump defended the withdrawal from Syria and said it was made possible by the defeat of IS militants.
“Our presence in Syria was not open ended and it was never intended to be permanent,” he told troops wearing camouflage fatigues in a hangar at the base. He said some troops “can now return home to their families.”
Trump spent a little more than three hours in Iraq. He was supposed to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi but in the end they only spoke by telephone.
Abdul Mahdi’s office said there was “a disagreement over how to conduct the meeting.” Iraqi lawmakers said the prime minister declined Trump’s request to meet him at the base.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the meeting could not be arranged due to security concerns and the short notice of the trip, but she said they had a “great call” and that Abdul Mahdi accepted Trump’s invitation to the White House.
The unannounced visit in Iraq followed in the footsteps of two of Trump’s predecessors, Republican George W Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, who both made surprise trips to see troops.
For security reasons, the visits are usually kept secret until after the president arrives back home. A small group of aides and Secret Service agents, and a pool of reporters, were with Trump and the first lady on the overnight flight from Washington.
Trump said his main security concern was for the first lady.
While in Iraq, Trump also spoke to military commanders and the US ambassador. Sanders said they “came up with a powerful plan that will allow us to continue our path to total victory” over IS. Unlike Syria, Trump said he had no plans to withdraw from Iraq. — Reuters