President Donald Trump is preparing for his first meeting with Iraq’s prime minister as the American leader shapes his policy for defeating the Islamic State group. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s first visit to Washington since Trump’s inauguration comes before Trump hosts a 68-nation meeting geared toward advancing the fight against the militant group.
Trump campaigned on a promise to dramatically ramp up the assault on IS and has vowed to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism.” So far, he has not indicated a dramatic change of course. Like President Barack Obama, Trump has not suggested any sharp increases in troop levels or in airstrikes against militant targets, looking to avoid giving off the image of an invading force.
During al-Abadi’s visit to Washington last year, the Iraqi premier worked to drum up greater financial and military support as he faced the daunting task of rebuilding cities destroyed in the fight against the Islamic State group.
He also sought greater assistance to help the country confront a humanitarian crisis, with more than 4 million people displaced in the fighting.
As he departed Baghdad for the Monday afternoon meeting at the White House, al-Abadi declared in a video statement, “We are in the last chapter, the final stages to eliminate IS militarily in Iraq.”
But as Iraqi forces come closer to recapturing the city of Mosul it’s militant group’s biggest stronghold in Iraq the extent to which the Trump administration is willing to commit to efforts to rebuild Iraqi cities, many of them in ruins from the fighting, remains to be seen.
Trump’s budget proposal would cut by roughly 30 percent funding for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development. Both contribute significantly to peacekeeping missions and development programs.
How Iraq will be impacted by Trump’s approach isn’t known. Previous administrations have asserted a need for maintaining assistance to Iraq to counter the influence of neighboring Iran.