State Department orders non-essential staff to leave Iraq amid escalating tensions with Iran




 

The U.S. military put its forces in Iraq on high alert and the State Department ordered all non-emergency employees Wednesday to leave the country immediately amid escalating tensions with Iran. It comes as some U.S. allies have expressed skepticism about the Trump administration's claims that Iran poses a growing threat.

Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman at the U.S. military's Central Command, said in a statement that there were "possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq" as he sought to clarify contradictory remarks by a British commander on Tuesday.

British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior officer in the U.S.-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, said that "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria." Ghika's remarks were later rebutted by Urban in a rare sign of how the U.S. and its close allies have split over Iran's potential threat.

The Trump administration has made applying "maximum pressure" on Iran a central tenet of its foreign policy. Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, reimposed crushing sanctions and boosted the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf. In recent days, unease that Washington and Tehran could be headed toward military confrontation has mounted.

Iran to Trump: You are playing 'very dangerous game,' risking 'devastating war'

In Baghdad, the U.S. Embassy published a statement Wednesday saying the State Department mandated that all non-emergency government staff leave the country after Washington last week said it detected new and urgent "credible" threats from Iran and its proxy forces in the region targeting Americans and U.S. interests.

Specific details about the intelligence have not been revealed.

But in a worrying sign, Saudi Arabia said this week that two of its oil tankers and other energy-related infrastructure were damaged in an act of "sabotage" in the Gulf. Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who are fighting a war with Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities on Tuesday.

Federica Mogherini, Europe's top foreign affairs diplomat, called for the U.S. to show "maximum restraint" after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mixed messages: Varied points of view from Trump on Iran

When the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal in May last year, the other signatories to the accord - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the EU - vowed to stay in and establish a financial mechanism that would allow them to keep trade and other ties with Iran open amid the U.S. sanctions. They have struggled to achieve that. As a result, Iran has given European countries 60 days to find a way of salvaging the agreement or threatened to start enriching uranium to far higher levels.

If nothing happens when the 60 days are up "there will be consequences from our side," Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran's ambassador to the United Kingdom, told USA TODAY and other media outlets during a briefing in Iran's embassy in London on Tuesday.

Successive U.S. administrations have viewed Iran as a regional troublemaker and described it as the "largest state sponsor of terrorism." Tehran aids a number of Shia militant groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere across the Middle East region. The Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal in part because of that reputation and also because the deal does not address Iran's ballistic missile activity.

"Iran is certain to continue to pursue its regional strategy, unless and until its adversaries are willing or able to blunt Iran's efforts," the authors of a new report by the The Soufan Center, a global security research center, wrote. "Rolling back Tehran's regional influence will require an equally nimble approach combining diplomacy, smart counter-terrorism policy, and a nuanced understanding of how and why Iran's soft power efforts have been successful so they may be effectively countered."

War plan?: Trump dismisses report of plan to send troops to Middle East

Like what you're reading? Download the USA TODAY app for more

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: State Department orders non-essential staff to leave Iraq amid escalating tensions with Iran

COMMENTS

More Related News

Russia-linked disinformation campaign fueling coronavirus alarm, US says
Russia-linked disinformation campaign fueling coronavirus alarm, US says

Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread alarm about the new coronavirus, disrupting global efforts to fight the epidemic, US officials say. The disinformation campaign promotes unfounded conspiracy theories that the United States is behind the COVID-19 outbreak, in an apparent bid to damage the US image around the world by seizing on health concerns. State Department officials tasked with combating Russian disinformation told AFP that false personas are being used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to advance Russian talking points in multiple languages.

In Case on Wealth Test for Green Cards, a Scathing Sotomayor Dissent
In Case on Wealth Test for Green Cards, a Scathing Sotomayor Dissent

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Trump administration to move forward with plans to deny green cards to immigrants who are thought to be likely to become "public charges" by making even occasional and minor use of public benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.As in a similar case last month, the vote was 5 to 4, with the court's conservative justices in the majority. As before, the court's brief order included no reasons for lifting a preliminary injunction that had blocked the new program.The earlier case, from a judge in New York, concerned a nationwide injunction. Friday's order lifted a much more limited injunction, one that applied...

Trump was reportedly
Trump was reportedly 'furious' after officials flew Americans with the coronavirus back to the US from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan without telling him

The US flew back 14 patients from the Diamond Princess in Japan, keeping them isolated from uninfected passengers. Trump reportedly wasn't told.

Health officials worry as untraceable virus clusters emerge
Health officials worry as untraceable virus clusters emerge
  • World
  • 2020-02-22 04:26:53Z

In South Korea, Singapore and Iran, clusters of infections are leading to a jump in cases of the new viral illness outside China. World Health Organization officials said China's crackdown on parts of the country bought time for the rest of the world to prepare for the new virus. "A number of spot fires, occurring around the world is a sign that things are ticking along, and what we are going to have here is probably a pandemic," said Ian Mackay, who studies viruses at Australia's University of Queensland.

Watchdog: Trump administration lacks strategy to fight Afghanistan
Watchdog: Trump administration lacks strategy to fight Afghanistan's dangerous heroin trade

Afghanistan is the source for 90 percent of the world's heroin, and the drug trade fuels a deadly insurgency against American troops.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

  • Atncqlyl
    (2019-10-11 06:37:01Z)

    https://m-dnc.com/vd/vir-the-robot-boy-film

    REPLY
  • Aoecwwps
    (2019-10-11 20:24:59Z)

    http://bitly.com/zahar-berkut-2019-movies zahar-berkut-2019-movies Zakhar Berkut 6 online-cinema
    http://bitly.com/zahar-berkut-2019-movies
    http://bitly.com/zahar-berkut-2019-movies - Zakhar Berkut 2 online-cinema

    REPLY
  • GfQp.vlws
    (2019-12-02 00:04:39Z)

    viagra buy in canada site es cheap viagra generic viagra cheap uk viagra buy online cheap cheap non prescription cialis

    REPLY

Top News: Latin America