Following President Donald Trump's surprise Christmas visit to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, Iraqi leaders have expressed their desire for the remaining U.S. forces to leave their country permanently.
What's the background?
Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American forces initially left Iraq in 2011 under the Obama administration. However, they returned to Iraq in 2014 at the request of the Iraqi government to help with the fight against ISIS. Now, Iraqi lawmakers argue that ISIS has been beaten back enough that they can finish that fight on their own.
Trump announced last week that the U.S. troops would be completely leaving Syria and that the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan would be reduced. However, on Wednesday he said he had "no plans at all" for U.S. troops to pull out of Iraq.
While announcing the U.S. pullout of Syria on Dec. 19, Trump declared that ISIS in Syria had been defeated. Critics of the move have expressed concern that the pullout could leave U.S. Kurdish allies in Syria caught between the forces of Turkey, which views them as terrorists, and the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, against whom they had rebelled. This decision also led to the resignations of both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and U.S. envoy to the coalition to fight ISIS Brett McGurk.
While Iraq's Parliament is divided between two blocs, lawmakers from both sides have called for a vote to demand that U.S. troops leave the country. More than 5,000 U.S. troops are currently in Iraq.
Iraqi lawmakers also criticized Trump for failing to meet with any Iraqi leaders while he was visiting that country.
When he landed in Iraq, Trump reportedly gave the Iraqi prime minister two hours' notice to meet with him. The Iraqi prime minister could not make this meeting with Trump that quickly so the two talked on the phone instead, according to CBS News. During his visit, Trump did not meet with any other Iraqi leaders.
The base Trump visited is roughly 100 miles from Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.