Iraqi political and militia leaders have condemned US President Donald Trump’s surprise visit to US troops in Iraq as a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.

Sabah al Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of parliament to discuss the “blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits. The US occupation of Iraq is over”.

Politicians also said a meeting between Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was cancelled due to a disagreement over venue.

The Bina bloc, Islah’s rival in parliament and led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, also objected to Trump’s trip to Iraq on Wednesday.

“Trump’s visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,” said a statement from Bina.

Abdul Mahdi’s office said in a statement that US authorities had informed Iraq’s leadership of the president’s visit ahead of time. The statement said the Iraqi prime minister and US president talked on the phone due to a “disagreement over how to conduct the meeting”.

Iraqi politicians told Reuters the pair disagreed over where their planned meeting should take place.

Trump had asked to meet at the Ain al-Asad military base, an offer which Abdul Mahdi declined.

Trump’s visit comes amid a backdrop of escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, as Washington seeks to counter Iran’s sway in the Middle East.

Falih Khazali, a former militia leader turned politician allied with Bina, accused the United States of wanting to increase its presence in Iraq.

“The American leadership was defeated in Iraq and wants to return again under any pretext, and this is what we will never allow,” he said.

Bina said Trump’s visit “places many question marks on the nature of the US military presence and its real objectives, and what these objectives could pose to the security of Iraq.”

In his surprise trip to Iraq, Mr Trump defended his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, where they have been helping battle Islamic State militants.

“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” he said.

“We’re respected again as a nation,” the President told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq.

He said US military gains meant that he could withdraw 2000 forces from Syria. During his first visit to a troubled region, Trump also said he has no plans to withdraw US forces from Iraq.

“I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds,” Trump told troops clad in fatigues at al-Asad Airbase west of Baghdad.

“Eight years ago, we went there for three months and we never left,” he said.

“Now, we’re doing it right and we’re going to finish it off.”

He said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to take out “any remnants” of IS left in Syria. The US presence in Syria was not meant to be “open-ended,” he said, adding that other wealthy nations should pay for rebuilding Syria.

“The nations of the region must step up and take more responsibility for their future,” said Trump, who said there would be a “strong, deliberate and orderly withdrawal” of US forces from Syria.

Trump’s trip to Iraq came a week after he stunned his national security advisers by announcing the US troop withdrawal from Syria.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis abruptly resigned following the announcement, and Trump’s decision rattled allies around the world, including in Iraq.

Trump’s trip was shrouded in secrecy. Air Force One flew overnight from Washington, landing at an air base west of Baghdad under the cover of darkness Wednesday evening.

It is his first visit with troops stationed in a troubled region.

Trump had planned to spend Christmas at his private club in Florida, but stayed behind in Washington due to the shutdown.

It’s unclear whether his trip to Iraq was added after it became apparent that the government would be shut down indefinitely due to a stalemate between Trump and congressional Democrats over the president’s demand for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

IS has lost a significant amount of territory in Iraq and Syria but is still seen as a threat. Trump, who speaks often about his support for the US military, had faced criticism for not yet visiting US troops stationed in harm’s way as he comes up on his two-year mark in office.

In October, Trump said he “will do that at some point, but I don’t think it’s overly necessary.” He later began to signal that such a troop visit was in the offing.

Islah - the Iraqi parliamentary block - is headed by populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr has long opposed the US presence in Iraq since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. He led two uprisings against US forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shi’ite leaders to also distance himself from Iran.

Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, also known as the PMF, many of which are supported by Iran, oppose the presence of US troops in the region. The PMF was made formally part of the security forces this year after helping the military defeat Islamic State in Iraq in 2017.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the powerful Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, said on Twitter, “Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces. And if they do not leave, we have the experience and the ability to remove them by other means that your forces are familiar with.”

Some Iraqis, however, were less concerned with the US president’s visit.

“We won’t get anything from America,” said Baghdad resident Mohammad Abdullah. “They’ve been in Iraq 16 years, and they haven’t given anything to the country except destruction and devastation.”