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Trump snuck into Iraq. Rouhani was welcomed with open arms

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US President Donald Trump had to sneak in to Iraq, a supposed US ally, arriving at the Ein Al-Assad airbase for an unannounced visit on 26 December. Not a single Iraqi official was there to welcome him. Instead, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi angrily snubbed him, refusing to travel to the airbase to meet him as requested. Many members of the Iraqi parliament went so far as to demand the departure of the some 5000 US troops based there. Eventually, President Trump had to sneak out of Iraq the same way he entered.

In stark contrast, on his visit to Iraq between 11 and 14 March Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was received as a statesman. Welcomed with honour, he stepped onto the red carpet and was received by the Iraqi President, Barham Salih, on arrival. The message was clear; in the new Iraq, the US should no longer take things for granted. Iran is Iraq’s neighbour and, though its influence in the country might weaken, it will never be eroded completely.

This was Rouhani’s first visit to Iraq since taking office in 2013 and it upset the US. One of the major objectives of the visit was to bypass, or at least ease, economic sanctions the US had re-imposed on Iran after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, originally signed in 2015.

Judging by the number of documents signed while President Rouhani and his delegation were in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, they have done well in fulfilling this aim. In a joint press conference after welcoming his guest, Abdel-Mahdi said “Iraq won its war against........

© Middle East Monitor