Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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Trump’s Son-in-Law Visits Iraq

U.S. President Donald's Trump son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, visited Iraq and met with senior Iraqi officials to discuss the fight against Islamic State militants.

Kushner flew into Baghdad Monday with the top U.S. military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.

The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he met Monday with the two U.S. officials. The Iraqi defense ministry released video showing that Iraqi Defense Minister Irfan al-Hayali also met with the Americans.

A statement by Dunford's office said the purpose of the visit is "to meet with Iraqi leaders, senior U.S. advisors, and visit with U.S. forces in the field to receive an update" on the status of the fight against Islamic State.

A U.S.-led international coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State fighters and assisting Iraqi troops on the ground as they engage in a fierce fight to retake Mosul.

"As well as receiving briefings and updates, Mr. Kushner is traveling on the behalf of the President to express the President's support and commitment to the Government of Iraq and U.S. personnel currently engaged in the campaign," the statement added.

Kushner, like his father-in-law, has no previous government or diplomatic experience, but has quickly become one of the most powerful men in Washington. He is married to Trump's daughter, Ivanka.

The 36-year-old, who before entering the White House was a real estate investor and newspaper owner, has been given an almost impossibly ambitious portfolio, including both domestic and international responsibilities.

Kushner serves as a de facto top-ranking diplomat, advising his father-in-law on relations with Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East. He has been tasked with coming up with a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

He also is said to play a key role in White House staffing decisions and domestic policy debates. He recently launched a task force aimed at reshaping the entire federal government based on private sector principles.

Kushner's visit to Iraq comes as Trump is seeking to speed up the fight against Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria. During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to "utterly destroy" the group.

Defense officials recently presented Trump with a plan to defeat the terrorist group, but details of the plan have not been released. So far, Trump's strategy seems to involve expanded airstrikes.

Suspected U.S. airstrikes killed as many as 200 civilians last month in Mosul, which Iraqi forces are trying to wrest from Islamic State fighters. U.S. officials have acknowledged the deaths may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike, but accuse IS of "smuggling civilians into buildings so we won't see them and trying to bait the coalition to attack.

Source: Voice of America