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H.R. McMaster criticized Trump for asking about taking Iraq’s oil

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Haider al-Abadi trump
US
President Donald Trump greets Iraqi Prime Minister Haider
al-Abadi at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20,
2017.

Kevin
Lamarque/Reuters


  • President Donald Trump has criticized the wisdom and
    expense of US military operations overseas.
  • As compensation, Trump has repeatedly suggested taking
    natural resources from the countries where US troops have been
    deployed.
  • The idea has been rejected by both US and foreign
    officials.

President Donald Trump has more than once expressed interest in
being reimbursed for US military operations by the countries
where those operations take place, and his focus on the issue
reportedly earned him a rebuke from former national security
adviser H.R. McMaster.

According to a report by Axios, during a
summer 2017 phone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi,
Trump brought up the subject of taking Iraqi oil as compensation
for US expenditures in the country, which the US invaded in 2003
and has been present in ever since.

Trump previously mentioned the idea during the presidential
campaign, saying the US should “take the oil,” and he
reportedly broached it again during a March 2017 meeting with al
Abadi at the White House.

Al Abadi politely rebuffed Trump’s inquiry during the March
meeting, a source who was in the room told Axios. Trump mentioned
it again during a phone call in summer 2017, which earned him
reproach from McMaster.


U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster speaks to reporters in the briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
National-security
adviser H.R. McMaster in the White House briefing room. May 16,
2017.

Thomson
Reuters


“We can’t do this and you shouldn’t talk about it. Because
talking about it is just bad,” a source with direct knowledge of
the exchange described McMaster as saying.

“It’s bad for America’s reputation, it’ll spook allies, it
scares everybody,” the source described McMaster as saying. The
source, who was not exactly sure of the phrasing, said McMaster
argued the requests could’ve made the US look like “criminals and
thieves” — saying, “

that was the point [McMaster]
was trying to get across.”

“You won’t be able to do it anyway and you’ll harm our reputation
and your own reputation just from talking about it,” the source
recounted McMaster saying.


Read also: Trump is attacking the French
president for saying Europe needs to do more to defend itself —
something Trump has also said they should do

McMaster, whose relationship with Trump was tumultuous, left the White House in early
2018.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who commanded Marines during
the first Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said in
February 2017 that the US was not in Iraq “to seize anybody’s
oil
.”

Trump mentioned the idea publicly in September 2017.
“You’re not stealing anything,” Trump said at the time. “We’re
reimbursing ourselves.”

Those comments drew rebukes from many sides,
including from Iraqis and their government.


US Soldiers OIR aerial extraction Iraq
US
soldiers deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve await
aerial extraction during an exercise in Iraq.

1st Lt. Leland White/US Army National
Guard


Trump has questioned the wisdom of US military operations
overseas — he referred to the war in Iraq and the subsequent
reconstruction effort as “crooked as hell” — but has
remained committed to them, in some cases increasing their
intensity.

In Afghanistan, where Trump increased the number of US
personnel after taking office, the president has also suggested recompense with the
country’s mineral resources.

While Afghan officials have not been as averse to the idea
as Iraqi officials, pervasive insecurity in the country has
prevented any kind of extraction effort.

Trump’s criticism has extended to Iraqi officials.
According to a former US official, after the March 2017 meeting
at the White House, Trump jokingly referred to them as
“the most accomplished group of thieves he’d ever met.”

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