Iraqi protesters, some dressed in uniforms identifying them as members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militias forced their way into the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, throwing rocks and chanting “death to America!“
Details are still emerging, and while there was gunfire heard from the embassy, there are no report of any casualties so far. The protesters are retaliating over Sunday’s US airstrikes against PMU bases in Iraq and Syria.
The US State Department downplayed the matter, declaring the site “secure” despite the rising smoke and guys storming it. The military is also planning to send more troops to the embassy to “ensure our right of self defense.”
Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi who resigned but has yet to be replaced, issued his own statement urging everyone to leave the embassy and calm down. There are no signs that is working. And while the State Department says they are holding Iraq responsible for protecting the embassy, President Trump issued his own Tweet blaming Iran for the entire matter.
The US attacks on the PMU were predicated on the idea that the PMU was behind an attack on an Iraqi military base, where a US contractor was killed. The PMU is part of Iraq’s security forces, and denied being behind it, and threatened to retaliate over US attacks on them.
President Trump, and indeed US officials in general, have struggled with the idea that the PMU are Iraqi militias, and have repeatedly called them “Iranian.” This was also the case today when Trump’s Tweet blamed Iran for the base attack and the embassy protest. Since protesters burned down one of the Iranian Consulates in Iraq just a few weeks prior, it seems the US is massively overestimating Iran’s control over the situation there.