Trump Threatens Iraq Sanctions ‘Like They’ve Never Seen Before’

Says sanctions will 'make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame'

President Trump reacted furiously at the news that Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US troops on Sunday, saying that if they actually ask the US to leave “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.” He added it would “make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

Iraq, of course, was already under heavy US sanctions from 1989 to the 2003 invasion and occupation. The sanctions are estimated to have killed 1.6 million Iraqis, a great many of them children. Those sanctions were to punish Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that they didn’t have.

Trump’s threat is meant to imply he’ll inflict something even worse on Iraq this time. This is perhaps even more galling in that the threat is the result not of anything wrong that Iraq has done, but just because Trump is very cross with them.

The US troop presence in Iraq, as US officials are so often eager to remind us, is at the voluntary request of the Iraqi government. Currently, that is predicated on fighting ISIS, even though ISIS isn’t really active in Iraq anymore. There had already been talk, before the US started attacking the Baghdad airport and assassinating people, that the invitation had worn out its usefulness.

Parliament voted today to end that invitation, pending the prime minister’s signature. Trump’s threats are meant to give the impression that the Iraqis have no real choice, and that the US government would inflict genocidal levels of sanctions on them if they rescind their voluntary invitation.

That, of course, means the presence is not voluntary, but is being committed to by Iraq under extreme duress. The extreme level of the threat, coming just days after US attacks on the Iraqi capital, suggests a particularly ugly American military occupation, and that any claim to legality through coerced invitation would be immensely dubious.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.