The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
US orders non-emergency embassy staff in Iraq to leave Baghdad, Erbil Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

US orders non-emergency embassy staff in Iraq to leave Baghdad, Erbil

Non-emergency staff have been ordered to leave from the United States embassy in Baghdad [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 May, 2019

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Non-emergency staff have been ordered to leave from the United States embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil.
The US State Department on Wednesday ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil, as tensions mount between the United States and Iraq's neighbour Iran.

Washington has ramped up pressure on Tehran in recent days, accusing Iran of planning "imminent" attacks in the region, and bolstering the American military presence in the Gulf.

"Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians," a travel advisory warned.

"Anti-US sectarian militias may also threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq."

The US last year shut its consulate in the protest-hit southern Iraqi city of Basra, blaming "indirect fire" by Iran-backed forces and warning its rival of retaliation for any damage.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week paid a surprise trip to Baghdad in a move to bolster ties with Iraq as it pushes ahead with its "maximum pressure" against Tehran - a US arch-rival, but an ally of Iraq.

He told reporters he had made the trip because Iranian forces are "escalating their activity" and said the threat of attacks were "very specific."

Pompeo met with Iraq President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, and spoke to them "about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it's able to adequately protect Americans in their country."

The Pentagon said it was sending several massive, nuclear-capable B-52s to the region in response to "recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces."

Both Pompeo and Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have this week played down fears that their countries were seeking conflict.

But National Security Advisor John Bolton warned Iran that Washington would respond with "unrelenting force" to any attack by Tehran, including by its regional allies.

Blasts involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of Iraq, including the capital Baghdad, the advisory added. Erbil is the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, in northern Iraq.

Tensions in the region

The move comes amid days of rising tensions in the Gulf, which has witnessed at least two attacks.

On Tuesday, drone attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels shut down one of Saudi Arabia's major oil pipelines, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the sabotage of the ships.

Houthi rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on Twitter that the attacks were "a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide" against the Yemeni people.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the Yemen war to bolster the internationally recognised government's efforts against the Houthis in March 2015.

The reported pipeline attacks came after the UAE said four ships were damaged in "sabotage attacks" off the emirate of Fujairah, close to the Hormuz, on Sunday.

While Washington and its Gulf allies stopped short of blaming Riyadh's regional arch-rival Tehran for the sabotage, US President Donald Trump warned Iran against doing anything to harm US interests.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More