Trump surprisingly visits soldiers in Iraq

For days, US President Trump has had problems on many fronts. Among other things, a “shutdown” paralyzes parts of the US government. In between, he disappears to a surprising military visit to Iraq . But the trouble at home quickly brings him back.

Washington (AP) – After a surprise brief visit to US soldiers in Iraq , US President Donald Trump continues to struggle with domestic turmoil at home.

Trump and his wife Melania visited unannounced US troops on Wednesday at a military base west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad . For the president, it was the first visit to combat troops abroad during his tenure. He took advantage of the brief Christmas visit, which only took a few hours, to defend his controversial decision to withdraw US troops from Syria . With regard to the budget dispute in the home country and the partial stagnation of government affairs, Trump was again relentless.

Unlike his predecessors, Trump had never visited US combat forces overseas in his presidency . In recent months, he has been under pressure to catch up. He did that now. On the way back, Trump made a stopover on Thursday night in Germany – at the Ramstein military base near Karlsruhe . There he spoke with soldiers and officers and posed with the First Lady in a hangar for selfies with his troops. After a short two-hour stay in Ramstein , Trump continued his flight home.

Trump’s troop visit falls into a time of great turbulence in the US military . Secretary of Defense James Mattis had announced his resignation a few days ago – for fundamental substantive disagreements with Trump . The president had recently announced that he wanted to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria – on the grounds that the terrorist organization IS was defeated there. The decision caused indignation both nationally and internationally. Experts do not think the IS is defeated and a trigger is premature.

During his visit to Iraq Trump defended the Syria decision. “The United States can not continue to be the world policeman,” he said. It would not be fair if only the United States would carry that burden. To what is left of Syria in Syria , now Turkey and other countries of the region would have to take care of.

Also in Afghanistan Trump wants to reduce the troop strength probably much, which also encounters much misunderstanding and criticism. Trump now decided to visit Iraq with another country in another country. There are around 5,000 US soldiers in Iraq .

Trump stressed that he had no plans to withdraw soldiers from Iraq . Rather, this could be the base location to continue to fight against IS in the region.

With regard to the permanent successor at the head of the Pentagon, Trump said he was in no hurry here in Iraq . Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will initially head the department in January .

Trump’s visit to Iraq falls into a phase of other domestic turbulence. Because of his bitter dispute with the opposition Democrats, the government business in the United States have been partially silent for days. At the weekend, a budget freeze for several federal ministries came into force, because until then, no new budget law had been decided for the resorts. Trump had refused to sign a law if it did not provide money for the long-desired border wall to Mexico. He demanded $ 5 billion. But there was no majority in the US Congress. The Democrats reject Trump’s call for a border wall.

Hundreds of thousands of government employees are now condemned to forced leave or have to work first without salary. Affected is about a quarter of the government apparatus. For several ministries, a longer-term budget had already been adopted in September.

Intensive negotiations have been going on for days on how much budget funds should be channeled into border security. So far, the positions of the negotiators are still far apart. A quick agreement is not in sight. According to estimates of the White House, the “shutdown” could drag on until the new year.

Also on the visit to Iraq Trump commented on the stalled dispute. When asked how long the “shutdown” will take, he said it would take as long as necessary. “We will get a wall,” he said. “We need security for our country.”

The tug-of-war over the border security is overshadowed by the death of an eight-year-old Guatemalan boy in custody at the US Border Guard. In early December, a seven-year-old girl from the country had died after being arrested by US border guards.