On surprise Iraq visit, Pence reassures Kurds and discusses protests with PM
Date: 2019-11-23 20:54
Vice President Mike Pence visited Iraq on Saturday (November 23) to reassure Iraqi Kurds of US support after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria drew criticism that Washington had betrayed its Kurdish allies there.
His trip included a visit with Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan region in Iraq, and also a phone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to discuss the unrest and protests over corruption that have rocked the country.
The vice president went on to Erbil in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, seeking to show US appreciation for Kurdish sacrifices and affirm a message of US support and partnership with Kurdish fighters.
Last month Turkey launched an operation into northeastern Syria after Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw all 1,000 US troops there. Pence brokered a pause with Ankara to allow time for Kurdish fighters to withdraw. That truce aimed to mitigate the crisis sparked by Trump's announcement, which US Republican and Democratic lawmakers criticized as a betrayal of Kurdish allies aligned with Washington in the fight against ISIS.
Pence made two stops during his short trip, which was previously unannounced for security reasons. Traveling on a military cargo plane, he landed first at Al Asad Air Base northwest of Baghdad and talked by phone with Abdul Mahdi.