As pressure between Washington and Tehran continues to mount, the United States has decided to remove some of its diplomats from Iraq. A decision motivated by “imminent threat” in “direct link with Iran”, according to senior US officials.
Iraq appears as the collateral victim of the escalation between the Americans and Iran. In recent days, the United States has accused the Islamic Republic of preparing “attacks” against US interests in the region. Last week, Washington sent the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and a bomber force to the Gulf. But this spectacular reinforcement of the US military presence was not enough to bring down the tension. On Wednesday, the US State Department ordered its non-essential diplomatic staff to leave the Baghdad embassy and the Erbil consulate in northern Iraq. A decision motivated by “imminent threat” in “direct connection with Iran,” said senior US officials.
The threat is “real,” said one of the US State Department officials, citing responsibility for “Iraqi militias under the command and control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards”, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic. Iran. The State Department also warned in a notice against travel to Iraq that “many terrorist and rebel groups are active in Iraq and routinely attack Iraqi security forces like civilians.” “Anti-American confessional militias can also threaten US citizens and Western companies all over Iraq.” A security alert from the US embassy in Lebanon also calls on Americans to “watch out” for “increased tensions in the region.”
Shortly after the US announcement to withdraw its diplomatic staff from Iraq, the German and Dutch armies announced that they suspended until further notice its military training operations in that country because of the risks associated with tensions with Iran. At a press briefing, German Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff spoke of “increased vigilance” by the Bundeswehr, not to mention that training exercises could resume “in the coming days” if the situation allows it. The Dutch Ministry of Defense, quoted by the ANP press agency, spoke of “threats” to justify this decision.
If the head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo the day before in Moscow that the United States “does not seek a war with Iran”, the Kremlin said this Wednesday worried about this “escalation of the tensions”, has said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who accused Washington of “provoking” Iran. In response, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami assured that his country would “stand tall” in this confrontation, promising to the “American-Zionist front” that he said the US and its Israeli allies “feel the bitter taste of defeat. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, however, said on Tuesday that there would be “no war” with the Americans.
- Sabotage acts
Last week, Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Baghdad after canceling a planned visit to Berlin at the last minute for “urgent matters to be resolved”. “The reason we are going to Baghdad” is information that indicates an escalation of Iran’s activities, said Pompeo, who met with Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and President Barham Saleh. At the end of his visit, Mike Pompeo said he received “assurances” from Iraqi leaders that they “understood that it was their responsibility” to “adequately protect the Americans in their country”.
A British spokesman for the international coalition in Iraq and Syria, however, denied any change in Iranian posture, plunging the Pentagon into embarrassment. “There is no aggravation of the threat posed by the pro-Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria,” said General Chris Ghika on Tuesday, who stressed that the mission of the international coalition was to fight against the IS and not the Iranian regime. The statement “contradicts the credible threats received from US and Allied intelligence regarding pro-Iranian forces in the region,” a Pentagon spokeswoman said in a statement.
According to the New York Times, US Defense Minister Patrick Shanahan has presented to Donald Trump’s advisers a plan that up to 120,000 men could be sent to the Middle East if Iran attacks US forces . Other sources of tension, mysterious “acts of sabotage” of four ships off the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack against oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia that has been claimed by the Houthis, backed by Tehran. This threat against Saudi interests, the world’s leading oil exporters, has so far had only a limited impact on crude oil prices, as the price of crude falls on Wednesday.