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Obama Invited Leader of Recent Iraq Embassy Protests to White House

President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2016 (Carlos Barria/Reuters )

One of the instigators of a multi-day siege of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad was controversially invited to the Oval Office by Barack Obama in 2011.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted pictures of those responsible on Tuesday, including one of Hadi al Amiri, who served as Iraq’s transport minister from 2010 through 2014 under then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and traveled with the prime minister to meet Obama at the White House in December of 2011.

Obama went through with the visit despite concerns over al-Amiri from former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.)

Ros-Lehtinen told The Washington Times in 2011 that it was “extremely disturbing that the White House would see fit to welcome al-Amiri to a discussion on the future of Iraq.”

“If anything, he should be subject to questioning by the FBI and other appropriate U.S. law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies,” she said at the time, referring al-Amiri’s suspected links to the deadly 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. “The victims of Khobar Towers and the families of thousands of U.S. troops who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq deserve no less.”

 

Amiri has a long history of pro-Iranian leanings. After fighting on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq war, he served as the former commander of the Badr Corps, which had close ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. While in office, he allegedly allowed Iran to use Iraqi airspace to fly men and munitions to Damascus in support of the Assad regime during the Syrian civil war.

“I love Qassem Suleimani! He is my dearest friend,” he told The New Yorker in 2013, expressing admiration for the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, which was labelled a terrorist organization by the State Department in April.

On Wednesday, Iranian-backed militias ended their assault on the U.S. Embassy after the Defense Department deployed roughly 750 troops to Kuwait as a precautionary measure.

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