Pentagon Leader in Iraq for Talks on U.S. Military Presence by Missy Ryan and Tamer El-Ghobashy – Washington Post
Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan highlighted the U.S. commitment to Iraqi autonomy during talks in Baghdad on Tuesday, in the wake of comments from President Trump that have jeopardized plans for an ongoing counterterrorism presence there.
Shanahan made his first-ever visit to Iraq as part of an inaugural overseas tour after being tapped in January to become acting Pentagon chief. That followed the sudden departure of Jim Mattis, who resigned over differences with Trump.
“I wanted to make clear to them that we recognize our role. We understand that we’re there by invitation, that we jointly share the resources. And that we clearly recognize their sovereignty,” he told reporters of his discussions in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Shanahan’s visit occurred as the Trump administration seeks to wind down the operation against the Islamic State, the extremist group that took over large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014. It also follows a political outcry generated by Trump’s recent suggestion that he might want to maintain a military presence in Iraq to “watch Iran,” his administration’s chief adversary in the Middle East…
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq by Alissa J. Rubin – New York Times
The acting United States defense secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, arrived in Baghdad early Tuesday for an unannounced visit with Iraqi leaders to discuss the American troop presence in the country and the fight against the remains of the Islamic State.
Mr. Shanahan’s trip coincides with plans for an American troop withdrawal from Syria and questions about whether some of those troops could instead be based in Iraq, which would be used as a base for operations in Syria.
His quest was complicated — or, perhaps, made necessary — by an interview President Trump gave this month suggesting American troops could be sent to Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran, a fellow Shiite state…