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National Politics

Washington Post: Trump administration drafting possible sanctions against Iraq

Trump administration officials have started drafting possible sanctions against Iraq should US troops be expelled from the country, three people briefed on the situation told The Washington Post.

The news comes after the Iraqi Parliament voted to obligate Iraq’s government “to work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil” after a US airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

The people told the Post that the White House and Treasury Department would likely play a large role if sanctions were implemented but stressed that discussions over sanctions were still preliminary.

One of the officials told the newspaper that the plan is to wait “at least a little while” to see if Iraqi officials move forward with expelling US troops.

Trump outlined his sanction threats in a conversation with reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday, asserting, “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.”

“It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,” he said.

The President said the costs of maintaining an American troop presence in the country over the past many years should be repaid by Iraq if the country chooses to rescind the agreement allowing them to stay.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” he said.

Political and economic realities, however, could make it difficult for Trump to carry out his threat. It would be difficult to achieve without increasing already-rising oil and gasoline prices, for example.

Iraq is one of the most important oil producers on the planet, and sidelining its output would likely worsen fears of a supply shock that erupted after Trump ordered the drone strike in Baghdad last week.

“If there were Iran-style sanctions that made Iraq’s oil toxic to the rest of the world, that would drive prices up quite sharply,” said Bob McNally, president of the consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group.