Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, flew into Iraq on Monday with
the top U.S. military officer to get a first-hand assessment of the
battle against Islamic State from U.S. commanders on the ground and to
meet Iraqi officials.
Kushner, who has not been to Iraq before, the trip comes at a critical
time as Trump examines ways to accelerate a U.S.-led coalition campaign
that U.S. and Iraqi officials say has so far been largely successful in
uprooting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
visit appears to demonstrate the far-reaching portfolio of Kushner, 36,
who is part of Trump’s innermost circle and who has been given a wide
range of domestic and foreign policy responsibilities, including working
on a Middle East peace deal.
General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint
Chiefs of Staff, said he invited Kushner and Tom Bossert, White House
homeland security adviser, to accompany him so they could hear
“first-hand and unfiltered” from military advisers about the situation
on the ground and interact with U.S. forces.
said, ‘Hey, next time I go to Iraq, if you’re interested, come and it’d
be good,” Dunford said, adding he extended the invitation weeks ago.
kind of ground-level awareness of the war helps inform strategic
decisions, Dunford said, adding it was the same reason he regularly
leaves Washington to visit Iraq.
more appreciation you could have for what’s actually happening on the
ground, the more informed you are when you start talking about the
strategic issues,” Dunford said.
media reported on Sunday that Kushner and Dunford were in Iraq over the
weekend, they only arrived on Monday afternoon. Reuters was among a
small group of reporters traveling with the U.S. delegation.
Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, did not speak with reporters during the flight to Iraq.
spokesman, Navy Captain Greg Hicks, said Kushner was traveling on
behalf of Trump to express the president’s support and commitment to
Iraq’s government and U.S. personnel helping combat Islamic State.
Trump, who campaigned on defeating Islamic State, has yet to announce any dramatic shift in war strategy.
U.S. ROLE AFTER MOSUL FIGHT
The trip to Iraq comes as
Iraqi security forces engage in fierce, house-to-house fighting to
retake Mosul, Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq and the city
where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate nearly three
Nearly 290,000 people have fled the city to escape the fighting, according to the United Nations.
the loss of Mosul would deal a major defeat to Islamic State, U.S. and
Iraqi officials are preparing for smaller battles even after the city is
recaptured and expect the group to go underground to fight as a
What happens to the U.S. military role in Iraq after Mosul is recaptured remain unclear.
Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has previously called on Iraq’s
government to order the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces after the
battle of Mosul is over.
Dunford said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi understood the need for continued U.S. military support.
not our judgment that the Iraqis will be self sustaining and self
sufficient in the wake of Mosul. More importantly, it’s not Prime
Minister Abadi’s assessment,” Dunford said.
the border in Syria, a U.S.-backed campaign to isolate Islamic State’s
de facto capital of Raqqa is advancing ahead of an eventual assault on
forces repelled a major counter-attack by Islamic State militants
holding out at the country’s largest dam and in the nearby town of
Tabqa, the group and activists said on Sunday. The dam is a strategic
target in the military campaign, located about 40 km (25 miles) to the
east of Raqqa.