Amid anti-government protests in Iraq that have taken to the streets in Iraq over the last few weeks, US Vice-President Mike Pence on Saturday made an unscheduled visit to the Arab country.
During a visit surrounded by secrecy, Pence and his wife Karen visited US troops deployed in Iraq.
Taking to Twitter, Pence tweeted, “Happy Thanksgiving from Iraq. @SecondLady and I are so honoured to be with our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines here in Iraq”.
Happy Thanksgiving from Iraq. @SecondLady and I are so honored to be with our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines here in Iraq! We are so proud of you and thankful for you all! pic.twitter.com/bzcM1fGgiG
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) November 23, 2019
“We are so proud of you and thankful for you all.” he further posted.
The visit came amid protests that erupted on October 1 and spread through the capital and other regions of Iraq due to outrage over the lack of public services and employment opportunities.
Pence also mentioned the US military raid on the compound of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, recalling the moment when he and Trump received word that the ISIS leader had been killed.
The Vice President recounted how he and Trump “watched in real-time” from the White House Situation Room as US forces “descended on al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria.”
Pence also received a classified briefing from the commanding officer on the base and spoke by phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. On the call, Pence told Mahdi that he travelled to Iraq in part to “extend gratitude to the men and women (of the US military) serving in your country,” according to the TV travel pool with the vice president.
Later on Saturday, Pence met with the President of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani, in the Iraqi city of Erbil, where the US has routinely based some US special operations forces.
Earlier this month, thousands of protesters took to the street to protests to demand jobs and better public services in Iraq.
Protesters, most of them young people, waved Iraqi flags and chanted slogans such as “They are all thieves,” apparently referring to the country’s political class.
Since October 25, massive protests broke out in Baghdad and other central and southern provinces over similar reasons that left 157 people dead, including security forces.
These new waves of protests follow the initial demonstrations that erupted on October 1, which spread through the capital and other regions of Iraq due to outrage over the lack of public services and employment opportunities.