US Pulls Non-Essential Staff From Iraq Amid Tensions With Iran

Clay Curtis
May 18, 2019

It's been repeated so long though that the USA is now dialing up pressure on the Iraqi government, hypothetically an ally, demanding that they get militias in line when there is no real evidence those militias weren't in line in the first place.

Who wants us to plunge back into the Middle East, to fight a new and wider war than the ones we fought already this century in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen?

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is sure Tehran will "soon" seek to negotiate with Washington, and he dismissed media reports suggesting there was disagreement within the administration of his policy toward Iran.

Tuesday's attacks and Sunday's attacks on four tankers off Fujairah emirate have raised concerns that the USA and Iran might inching toward military conflict.

Israel, it added, has been maintaining close contact with the Trump administration in recent days, with Netanyahu speaking by telephone with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat liaising with his US counterpart John Bolton. But, he quickly added, "if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion".

The State Department also ordered the evacuation of all nonessential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, citing tensions with neighboring Iran.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened urgent consultations with Israel's security chiefs this week amid the escalating tensions between Iran and the United States, and reportedly urged them to do their utmost to ensure that Israel is not dragged into the fraught situation.

This has prompted the Pentagon to dispatch an aircraft carrier battle group and a fleet of B-52 bombers to the region to bolster its defences. Gen. Christopher Ghika told reporters.

Iran described the US moves as "psychological warfare", and a British commander cast doubt on USA military concerns about threats to its roughly 5,000 soldiers in Iraq.

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Pompeo told Iraq's top brass to keep the militias, which are expanding their power in Iraq and now form part of its security apparatus, in check, the sources said.

Equally significant was the response of the British Ministry of Defense, which backed up the general's assessment, saying that "his comments are based on the day-to-day military operations".

Tehran has rejected the allegation of Iranian involvement and Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif said that "extremist individuals" in the USA government were pursuing unsafe policies. An attack targeting US interests in Iraq would be detrimental to the country's recent efforts at recovering and reclaiming its status in the Arab world.

He told senior officials that his country won't negotiate with the USA, calling such talks "poison", but he also said, "Neither we, nor them is seeking war". USA economic pressure has led to spiraling inflation and falling oil exports.

Under the accord negotiated by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment capacity, a potential pathway to a nuclear bomb, in return for sanctions relief.

In response, Tehran has suspended its commitments to cap production of enriched uranium and heavy water at its Arak facility for 60 days in an attempt to pressure the European powers to make good on their promises to launch an Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) to circumvent United States sanctions by facilitating non-dollar trade with Iran.

On that very same day, Tehran announced it was suspending some of its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was signed in 2015 to limit the country's nuclear activity.

But in World War II, we had 12 million men under arms.

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