US Threat to Evacuate Iraq Embassy Raises Fear of War

Is the US pulling back from Iraq or about to start another big conflict

Iraqi Premier Mustafa Kadhimi came out of his recent visit to the United States with talk of a US drawdown and potential outright pullout from the country. As it stands today, Iraqi officials are expressing real concern that the United States could be about to start yet another war in the country.

All of the uncomfortable signs are there. The US has been threatening to close its Iraq embassy, and is making preparations to evacuate diplomats over the recent rocket attacks in the vicinity of the site.

The threat to close the site comes with the usual bells and whistles, and ultimatums, about how unhappy the US is with the Iraqi government. Talk of the Shi’ite militias responsible being in league with Iran also makes this a potential proxy war, one the US has oft-threatened.

This isn’t just Iraqis’ imagination. Last week the US carried out its first aircraft carrier-launched airstrikes since early 2018 against Iraq. The talk since then is that the US is “furious” and looking to take further action. The embassy closure would just be another step toward whatever is planned.

Kadhimi is trying to muster his allies to resist the momentum toward war. Yet hopes of using leverage to stop the Shi’ite militias may not work to calm the situation if the US believes they can just double down on demands against them.

It is well-known that Iraq’s biggest geopolitical fear is hosting a US-Iran war, and the US has seemed on the cusp of starting such a war several times in the past two years. The fact that the US bellicosity picks up near elections makes the timing bad, and US struggles to differentiate between Iran and Shi’ite militias means they can have their war with Iran without ever leaving Iraq.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.