Donald Trump threatens Iraq with sanctions, says US won’t leave unless ‘they pay us back’ for air base

President Donald Trump (Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump threatened to impose deep sanctions on Iraq if it moves to expel U.S. troops and said Sunday he would not withdraw entirely unless the military is compensated for the “extraordinarily expensive air base” there.

“We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever,” Trump said. “It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told lawmakers that a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, including those from the U.S., was required “for the sake of our national sovereignty.” About 5,000 American troops are in various parts of Iraq.

Mahdi described the strike authorized by Trump as a “political assassination” and said it was “time for American troops to leave.” Withdrawing U.S. troops from the Middle East has been a central component of Trump’s foreign policy; however, he has been forced to deploy additional soldiers to region to respond to several crises.

Trump also reiterated a threat to target Iranian cultural sites if Tehran launches an attack in retaliation for Soleimani. The president has said a U.S. response to such an attack could be “disproportionate.”

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