The Trump administration is removing about half of its diplomats from the Baghdad embassy in Iraq amid heightened tensions with Iran, Politico reported on Wednesday. The staff reduction is said to be temporary and comes after the assassination of a prominent Iranian scientist.
Iraqi officials told AFP the move was being made out of security concerns. “It’s a minor drawdown based on security reservations from the US side. They could come back — it’s just a security blip,” one source said.
The US embassy was the site of frequent rocket attacks that ramped up after the US assassinated Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in January. Soleimani was killed alongside Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), a group of mostly Shia Iraqi state-sponsored militias formed in 2014 to fight ISIS. The killing enraged the Shia militias inside Iraq.
In October, the Shia militias announced a ceasefire with the US in the hopes it would lead to a withdrawal. The truce was announced by Kataib Hezbollah, a militia seen as having close ties to Iran. While some Shia factions have said the ceasefire with the US is over, Kataib Hezbollah and Iran are both keen to avoid a confrontation with the US.
After a report came out that said President Trump reviewed options to strike an Iranian nuclear site, Iran urged its allies in Iraq not to provoke tensions with Washington. Sources told Middle East Eye that a top Iranian military officer, Brigadier General Ismail Qaani, delivered the message himself.
“Qaani made it clear that Trump wants to drag the region into an open war before leaving, to take revenge on his opponents over losing the election, and it is not in our interest to give him any justification to start such a war,” a top commander of a Shia militia in Iraq told Middle East Eye.
The same day the US announced a troop drawdown in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500 in November, rockets were fired at the US embassy in Baghdad. Kataib Hezbollah denied responsibility. The Washington Post quoted a spokesman for the group who said they were urging restraint in a story published on Saturday. “The US is retreating here. Why would it be in our interests to bomb them?” said spokesman Mohammed Mohie.
But other factions have their own reasons to attack the US. Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, responded to the Iranians call for restraint in a TV interview. “The Americans occupy our country, not yours. We will not listen to you anymore because our motives are 100 percent nationalist. The truce with the Americans has ended due to its conditions not being met,” he said.
Since Asaib Ahl al-Haq is a Shia militia, if they attack the US, it will naturally be blamed on Iran. Other groups in Iraq could stand to gain from provoking a war between Iran and the US, like ISIS, who celebrated the US assassination of Soleimani.
11 thoughts on “US Pulling Diplomats Out of Embassy in Baghdad Amid Heightened Tensions”
Given past history, I don’t believe it’s Trump wants to start a war. The Deep State would like for Trump to start it so Biden could claim he didn’t and still have his cake.
Then why is Trump persecuting Iran, and why did he assassinate Soleimani if he doesn’t want to start a war with Iran? Sanctions and Assassinations are acts of war.
You will recall he recalled the bombers within 10 minutes of target.
The pressure on him from the BB’s and long standing Deep State agenda must be tremendous. Gen. Wesley Clark is on record saying that at the time of the build up to invade Iraq he was shown the plan to not only invade Iraq, but Iran and 3 others. Iran is the only one left, and had the prestige of being one of David Frum’s famous “axis of evil.”
Trump is too intellectually and morally weak to counter these folk, and it’s not a thing that interests him anyway; but he does appreciate the capital outlay, and with no return. So he always tries to do it on the cheap. First he tries bombast, then sanctions, and only when that fails to ease the pressure, he carries out a “hit” in the tradition of Obama, but always “more bigly”.
He has the strangest way of showing he doesn’t want war. This from just a couple of days ago:
“Trump has given some of his most hawkish administration officials, particularly his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, carte blanche to squeeze and punish the Islamic Republic as aggressively as they wish in the coming weeks.”
Economic war is cheap.
He has no ability to appreciate the monumental cruelty of it. Nor, for that matter, typical of tribal mentality, do Americans in general.
True, but the assassinations aren’t about economics. When Trump was asking his people if we could do military strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites, he was supposedly talked down by Pompeo and others. I’m sure Pompeo’s reasoning was that we could still get Iran to react if we kill enough of their people. So now I think it’s only possible for war if Iran reacts or someone reacts for them and we blame Iran.
It is about economics. From the Donald’s pov. Much cheaper than war. But it is also about build-up for war.
Pompeo seems an unlikely peacenik, no? I think that report can’t be swallowed whole. Very likely the murder of Fakhrizadeh was intended to provoke a reaction to serve for casus belli to allow them to bomb a number of targets with Natanz (‘the dread H-bomb/WMD factory’) being featured for propaganda, where the real purpose is to reduce Iran to a vassal state of the US-Zionist Empire.
The Deep State has total control of foreign policy. That was the base level significance of the whole Russia-gate farce, to emasculate him. Trump is a cipher. They’ve consistently ignored his orders to get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and NATO, and basically laugh at the moron, only to use him as part of a propaganda fiction. But for all that, like the perfect fool he is, he embraces the role to enhance his macho man sex appeal.
“Pompeo seems an unlikely peacenik, no? I think that report can’t be swallowed whole.”
I think the report was accurate only because Pompeo figured he could get Iran to retaliate so a military strike would be justified in the eyes of the public. Pompeo also has asperations to be president and even he knows that any war with Iran has to be sold the right way.
I agree Pompeo & BB wanted to provoke a response sufficient to jingo a war fever. I just don’t believe it was the Donald needing to be restrained by Pompeo. For all his bellicose bluster, past behaviour indicates he has no stomach for the real thing.
Yeah, the restraining part might have been overplayed. Probably more like this:
“The president has repeatedly told his advisers that one of his priorities is to avoid a confrontation with Iran in which American military personnel would die. But Trump is comfortable letting Israel take the lead in targeting, or even slaying, Iranian regime figures in the closing weeks of his presidency, officials said.”
This is the world’s largest embassy compound. It was built to remain forever in Iraq. It cost $750 million, has housed 16,000 Americans at one time, and covers 104 acres. It was built with blast walls, a helicopter base, and other features to handle siege conditions. It houses troops with heavy weapons, not just a Marine Guard for an Embassy.
If we are drawing that down, it is a big deal.
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