President Obama made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Tuesday.
He landed at a well fortified Baghdad International Airport and his plan to visit Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and President Jalal Talabani changed because visibility problems disrupted his plans to fly by helicopter to meet them in person.
PM Maliki changed his schedule and went to meet Obama at Camp Victory and President Obama spoke with Talabani by phone.
The main reason for President Obama’s visit was to visit our brave heros in Iraq. While at Camp Victory he presented ten medals of valor to our soldiers.
He met with American military personnel including the Commander General Ray Odierno — who met him at the airport. President Obama also planned to talk with local leaders about making political progress in Iraq.
“Our men and women who are in harm’s way, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, deserve our utmost respect and appreciation,” press secretary Gibbs said.
Before President Obama arrived in Baghdad a car bomb exploded in the Shiite district of Khadamiyah, killing nine people. There were also six bombings in Baghdad on Monday.
Iraq is still weighed down with problems. Earlier this month, Sunni paramilitary fighters who had been allied with the U.S. clashed with Iraqi and American security forces in Baghdad and in northern Iraq, Kurdish-Arab tensions have increased with U.S. soldiers often caught in the middle as peacekeepers.
In addition, the last American ambassador, Ryan Crocker, left his post mid-February and the appointment of his successor, Christopher Hill, has been held up in the Senate.
Just before President Obama left Istanbul for Baghdad, the president told a group of university students that, even though he opposed the war in Iraq when it began, he now has a responsibility to remove combat troops in a careful way.
President Obama said, “I opposed the war in Iraq, I thought it was a bad idea. Now that we’re there, I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out that we do so in a careful enough way that we don’t see a complete collapse into violence.”