Speaking to a small group of reporters traveling with him, Mattis was quoted by Reuters as saying “I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America, have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I’m sure that we will continue to do so in the future.”
On his first trip to Iraq as Pentagon chief, Mattis is set to assess the war effort against the Islamic State as Iraqi forces launch a new push to evict ISIS militants from their remaining stronghold in the city of Mosul. In Iraq, he is likely to face questions about Trump’s remarks and actions, including a temporary ban on travel to the United States and for saying America should have seized Iraq’s oil after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003. Trump told CIA staff in January: “We should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you’ll have another chance.”
Trump later clarified his position in an ABC interview. The president said ISIS would not have become a global threat if it hadn’t taken over Iraq’s oil industry when the country was left weakened by the war.
“We should’ve kept the oil when we got out. And, you know, it’s very interesting, had we taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because they fuel themselves with the oil. That’s where they got the money. They got the money… when we left, we left Iraq, which wasn’t a government.
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