Following near daily attacks centered in and around Baghdad’s Green Zone where the sprawling US embassy is located as well as other multiple American and other international institutions, Washington has put the Iraqi government on notice over the breakdown in security, saying it could shutter the US embassy altogether.
The State Department is livid after repeat rocket and mortar attacks on the embassy, and has blamed a failure of Iraq’s security forces and of Iraq’s leaders to respond appropriately, also amid the intensified proxy war with Iran:
In a new escalation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iraqi President Barham Saleh last week to deliver an ultimatum, Iraqi and foreign officials told AFP.
Unless Iraq’s government puts an end to the rockets raining down on US military and diplomatic sites, Washington would shutter its embassy and recall its troops, the sources said.
We doubt the majority of Iraqis will miss the American presence, given in recent years anti-American demonstrations have grown, demanding the end of US troop presence.
One unnamed Iraqi official said of this latest controversy: “The Americans aren’t just angry. They’re really, really, really angry,” according to AFP, while another noted, “The honeymoon is over.”
The State Department has specifically faulted Baghdad’s inability to reign in its own unruly Shia militias which the US says serve as a proxy arm of Tehran.
“Iran-backed groups launching rockets at our embassy are a danger not only to us, but to the Government of Iraq,” a US official said to AFP.
US defense systems protecting the embassy have been increasingly active over the past two months:
Another footage in #Baghdad by a local shows #US C-Ram system intercepting rockets launched toward the US embassy in the Green Zone in #Baghdad tonight. The incident is yet to be confirmed by security officials in #Iraq. pic.twitter.com/tmvBbM7YzL
— Lawk Ghafuri (@LawkGhafuri) September 14, 2020
In mid-September, during a 48-hour period there were no less than four attacks on Western targets in Baghdad, including two direct attacks on the US embassy compound.
Currently a Trump initiated US troops draw down is underway, taking America’s presence down to about 3,000 nationwide, or about one-third of prior levels. However, there are still hundreds of diplomatic personnel operating out of the Green Zone, not to mention many thousands of US private contractors throughout the country.