Ongoing protests in Basra have forced the closure of the US consulate in the Iraqi port city, and the Pentagon is preparing to evacuate personnel from the site. While the protests have been raging for quite some time, US officials insist they’re entirely Iran’s fault.
“We can see the hand of the ayatollah and his henchmen supporting these attacks on the United States,” insisted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, despite the protests in Basra being largely related to Iraqi government corruption, and hurting the status of outgoing premier Hayder Abadi, an ally of both the US and Iran.
US officials say the closure of the consulate is because of “specific threats” from the Iranian government and militias. In practice this means militia leaders criticizing the US, and Iraqi ones at that. Shi’ite militias are often blamed on Iran.
The violence in Basra amounts to a Shi’ite militia firing rockets at the Basra airport, which is where the consulate is based. There were no casualties, and this was an Iraqi militia, but US officials say they are blaming Iran, and have threatened to retaliate against Iran over future attacks.