State Dept. Orders Evacuation of Non-Emergency US Government Employees from Iraq

Evarado Alatorre
May 16, 2019

Intelligence and military officials in Europe as well as in the United States said that over the past year, most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington - where John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, has prodded President Trump into backing Iran into a corner.

"This threat stream is very similar to what we saw in 2011 in Iraq, where they were firing the equivalent of barrel bombs at our installations", the officials said later, adding "and it's the same [Iranian-backed Iraqi] groups: it's Asaib Ahl al-Haq, it's Kataib Hezbollah, it's [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]-commanded and controlled Iraqi militias, and so I'm seeing the same threat reporting and I'm seeing the same preparations that I saw back then". "I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon".

The United States withdrew staff from its embassy in Iraq on Wednesday out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iran, with US sources saying they believe Tehran encouraged the attacks on the oil tankers.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday predicted that Iran will "soon" want to negotiate and denied any discord in the White House over moves that critics say could lead to war in the Middle East.

The White House says that Iran is sowing instability across the region.

Despite worldwide skepticism, the USA government has been pointing to increasing threats from Iran, a long-time enemy and rival of United States allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. "They know it will not be in their interest", he said, as quoted on his official website.

FILE PHOTO: A partial view of the Iraqi capital Baghdad is reflected in the visor of a U.S. Army helicopter crew member as he looks out of a Chinook helicopter flying from the U.S. Embassy to Baghdad International airport on January 9, 2019.

Tehran is threatening to resume higher enrichment in 60 days if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the 3.67 per cent permitted by the current deal between Tehran and world powers.

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Washington says it has received intelligence on possible attacks by Iranian or Iranian-backed forces, possibly targeting U.S. bases in Iraq or Syria.

One or more vessels incurred light hull damage, but what caused the damage and who was behind it remains unknown.

Perhaps intentionally, Gen Ghika said what most British government ministers feel: that there is now no threat to American or Saudi shipping from Iran or its surrogates. Even Gulf Arab states that openly oppose Iran, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seem cautious this week.

It was a telling remark from the supreme leader - Iran is not known to have enriched beyond 20% previously and it's unclear how far Tehran is willing to go in this process.

Germany and the Netherlands said Wednesday they were suspending training of soldiers in Iraq. German defense ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff said there was a "generally heightened alert" in the region but gave no specifics.

Last week, the United States dispatched warships and bombers to the Middle East to deter what it deemed Iranian threats.

The official also said the ultimate goal of the yearlong economic sanctions campaign by the Trump administration was to draw Iran into an armed conflict with the United States. "This is exactly why the president doesn't have the constitutional authority to declare war. If (the administration) were contemplating military action with Iran, it must come to Congress to seek approval", he said.

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