The New York Times reports: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, on the first visit by a senior Trump administration official to Iraq, worked on Monday to repair breaches of trust with Iraq’s leaders caused by his boss just as the two sides began a major offensive to oust the Islamic State from its last stronghold in the country.
Mr. Mattis found himself in nearly the same position he was in during his just-finished trip to Europe, where much of his time was spent reassuring wary allies that the United States was still committed to NATO after statements and actions by President Trump seemed to call old alliances into question.
Before arriving in Baghdad, Mr. Mattis was asked by reporters about Mr. Trump’s remarks during a visit to C.I.A. headquarters last month that the United States should have “kept” Iraq’s oil after the American-led invasion, and might still have a chance to do so.
“We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” Mr. Mattis said during a stop in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Mattis also found himself allaying concerns that the administration would exclude from the United States Iraqis who have worked and fought side by side with American troops. [Continue reading…]