Before arriving on an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Monday, Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis told reporters that the U.S. military is “not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.”
Reuters has the story:
Mattis, on his first trip to Iraq as Pentagon chief, is hoping to assess the war effort as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces launch a new push to evict Islamic State militants from their remaining stronghold in the city of Mosul.
But he is likely to face questions about Trump’s remarks and actions, including a temporary ban on travel to the United States and for saying America should have seized Iraq’s oil after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Trump told CIA staff in January: “We should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you’ll have another chance.”
Mattis, however, flatly ruled out any such intent. “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” he told reporters traveling with him.
When addressing the CIA in January, President Trump said that seizing Iraqi oil after the 2003 invasion would have been a good idea for “economic reasons.”
“Now I said (keep the oil) for economic reasons,” Trump said. “But if you think about it, Mike (Pompeo), if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil. But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance.”
It was never made clear what Trump meant by “maybe we’ll have another chance,” but Mattis’ words on Monday were undoubtedly spoken to put any speculation of the meaning to rest.
Mattis is finalizing plans at Trump’s request to accelerate the defeat of ISIS and is expected to meet senior U.S. and Iraqi officials in Iraq, reports Reuters.
The Defense Secretary’s visit comes on the heels of a decision by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to begin a ground offensive in western Mosul where ISIS fighters are under siege along with an estimated 650,000 civilians.
U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes U.S.-backed forces will recapture both of Islamic State’s major strongholds – Mosul and the city of Raqqa in Syria – within the next six months.
US-backed Iraqi forces stormed a key village overlooking Mosul’s airport “and are continuing to clear it” of ISIS fighters, the Iraqi army said Monday.
The Mosul offensive, which began on Sunday, comes after Iraqi forces recaptured the eastern half of the city.
In January, Defense Sec. Mattis said that “Our principal interest in Iraq is to ensure that it does not become a rump state of the regime in Tehran.”
Joseph Jankowski is a contributor for PlanetFreeWill.com. His works have been published by recognizable alternative news sites like GlobalResearch.ca, ActivistPost.com, InfoWars.com and ZeroHedge.com.