Pompeo Makes Surprise Iraq Visit Amid US Buildup Against Iran

Pompeo briefs Iraqi PM on security concerns

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Baghdad today, to talk up an ongoing US military buildup in the region, targeting neighboring Iran. The US has deployed a carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the region.

The buildup is being justified by the US citing vague, non-specific threats against US forces. These appear to originate from Israel’s Mossad, who informed the US they think it’s possible Iran might attack US targets in the area.

US officials were only too willing to believe this, and the mention of Iranian proxies possibly being involved immediately led to extra tension targeted at Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, which the US and Israel have both accused of being in league with Iran.

These same militias, however, are part of the Iraqi government’s own security structure. This is likely to raise concerns within Iraq, and Pompeo’s meeting with PM  Adel Abdul Mahdi doesn’t seem likely to resolve the questions.

Instead, Pompeo told reporters that he emphasized to Abdul Mahdi that the US insists Iraq needs to ensure it is “adequately protecting Americans.” Iraq didn’t comment on this, but concerns the US intends to use Iraq as a staging area to attack Iran is likely to add to growing calls among Iraqi MPs to resolve the question by just expelling US troops outright.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.