Iraq says US assures more support against Daesh

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, after his first meeting with President Donald Trump, says the US will not only support but will accelerate its efforts to fight Daesh.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi (L) and US President Donald Trump at the White House, March 20, 2017.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi said on Monday that US President Donald Trump has assured him of more American support in his country's fight against Daesh.

"We have been given assurances that the [US] support will not only continue but will accelerate for Iraq to accomplish the task," he said after his first meeting with the US president.

Trump and his administration have made defeating Daesh a top foreign policy goal. But the president has not  suggested any sharp increases in US troop levels or in air strikes against militant targets. 

Aggressive approach

The Iraqi premier said he got the impression that the Trump administration will take a more aggressive approach than the administration of President Barack Obama, who was reluctant to commit large numbers of US troops to combat Daesh in Iraq.

"I think they're prepared to do more to fight terrorism and be more engaged," Abadi said, adding that "but of course we have to be careful here."

We are not talking about military confrontation as such. Committing troops is one thing, while fighting terrorism is another thing.

When it was asked if he had seen specific Trump administration improvements to the previous administration's approach, he said: "To be honest, I haven't seen a full plan. I know there is a plan. I haven't seen it. We have our own plan."

Obama’s approach, which relied on training and supporting local forces, has succeeded in pushing the militants out of much of the territory they once held.

Trump and Abadi agreed that "terrorism cannot be defeated by military might alone," and the two leaders called for deepening commercial ties, including in the energy sector, a White House statement about the meeting said.

"It's not an easy job," Trump said. "It's a very tough job. Your soldiers are fighting hard. I know Mosul is moving along ... We will figure something out.”

Our main thrust is we have to get rid of Daesh. We're going to get rid of Daesh. It will happen. It's happening right now."

The Iraqi premier also thanked the US president for removing Iraq from a travel ban affecting several Muslim-majority countries.

Trump removed Iraq from the original list of banned countries because of Iraqi cooperation with the occupation and post-occupation forces following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Nuclear deal with Iran

Trump also discussed with Abadi his objections to the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Obama.  

"One of the things I did ask is, 'Why did President Obama sign that agreement with Iran?' because nobody has been able to figure that one out," Trump said during the meeting.

"But maybe someday we'll be able to figure that one out."

Since he started campaigning for the 2016 presidential election, Trump has criticised the Obama administration for backing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, calling it "the worst deal ever negotiated."

In 2015, Iran and six major powers reached the deal to restrict Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international economic sanctions against the country.

Humanitarian crisis

During his Washington visit, the Iraqi premier also sought greater assistance to help the country confront a humanitarian crisis, with more than four million people displaced in ongoing fighting against Daesh, as well as sectarian conflict.

He also called on the international community for more financial contributions to rebuild war-torn Iraqi cities.

"We (would) love to see more funds so that we can quickly (regain) prosperity and stabilisation in these areas," Abadi said.

TRTWorld and agencies