Earlier today, WaPo reported on a letter from a U.S. general to an Iraqi Ministry of Defense official that sounded for all the world like U.S. military forces were preparing to get out of Iraq in compliance with the recent (nonbinding) parliament vote:
BREAKING: In a letter to the Iraqi military, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III says that U.S. forces will be relocated “to prepare for onward movement” and says that “we respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.” A U.S. military official confirmed the letter’s authenticity. This is an updating story.
That sure was weird, because here’s what Trump said about the Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel U.S. forces just yesterday:
Trump on Sunday night also sounded a note of defiance over the news that Iraq’s Parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country. He said military personnel would not leave unless Iraq pays the U.S. back for an air base there.
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time,” Trump said. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
The president went on to say that if Iraq forces the U.S. military out, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
“If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq,” Trump said.
But then Lil’ Marco Rubio started tweeting that the letter could be Iranian disinformation, and boy would The Post look dumb for falling for that!
You are going to end up looking really dumb pic.twitter.com/Tu8TRY4YaR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 6, 2020
But THEN, U.S. military officials confirmed that it was their letter, only it was a DRAFT letter, and it shouldn’t have been delivered to the Iraqi PM, but it was:
Appears Iraqi PM's office leaked a copy of a letter that US officials now say was a draft. https://t.co/W0GW9sTaEm
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 6, 2020
WaPo Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly has a photo of the letter on her Twitter feed here. There are some odd references in it about helicopter traffic related to force movements, including the notation that activity will take place at night to “help alleviate any perception that we may be bringing more Coalition Forces into the IZ.” Come again? How would helicopter traffic at night alleviate those concerns?
In conclusion, what the actual FUCK?