The Washington Post reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraqi officials in a private meeting that Washington would close its embassy in Baghdad if the Iraqi government did not move to stop Iranian-backed militia attacks on the compound housing the embassy.
The Washington Post considered in an article published today that Pompeo, with his request, put Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi – whom it considered “one of the preferred candidates” for the administration of US President Donald Trump – in a difficult challenge, as he seeks to contain the pro-Iranian militias, but “not to the point of reaching the level of Political suicide. “
The newspaper confirmed that if Pompeo went ahead with the implementation of his warning and closed the embassy to protect the Americans, Iran and its allies might claim a major propaganda victory, and it might also constitute a prelude to intense American strikes on Iranian-backed militias.
The Washington Post believes that Iraq is the place where a confrontation between the United States and Iran could erupt during the next few weeks, which could be considered the “October surprise” ahead of the US presidential elections in early November.
It stresses that Iran is cautious about provoking the Trump administration directly during the campaign season, preferring to operate on the indirect battlefield.
With his warning, Pompeo made this scene more complex and increased the possibility of an open confrontation between Washington and Tehran in Iraq.
According to the newspaper, any potential confrontation against Iraq carries risks in all directions, as it is likely that the Trump administration will counter-attack in the event that Iranian-backed militia attacks cause the deaths of Americans, but if the Iraqi prime minister targets Shiite militias as Pompeo wants, they may respond. Iran is powerfully and its fragile political system collapses from within.
The newspaper stresses that Pompeo’s goal is only to push Al-Kazemi to adopt a stronger approach to the attacks, without reaching the point of no return.
A senior State Department official said on Friday, “We believe that Al-Kazimi wants to do the right thing, but he will have to do more and faster .. We will not sit and watch, there is a clear danger to the lives of Americans if these attacks continue.”
Despite Al-Kazemi’s promises to curb these attacks, their intensity has escalated in recent weeks, as an Iraqi analyst, Joel Wing, counted, during this month alone, 25 attacks on convoys carrying supplies to American facilities or to the coalition forces, or targeting the Green Zone where the American embassy is located. And around Baghdad airport where there are American elements.
Pompeo’s current pressure campaign began during a phone call last Sunday with Iraqi President Barham Salih, according to the Iraqi 24 news website. The website stated that the American minister warned that “the decision to close the embassy in Baghdad is ready and in Trump’s hands …” and clarified that if the American forces withdraw and close the embassy in this way, Washington will liquidate all those proven to be involved in these attacks.
In his speech, Pompeo referred in particular to two factions supported by Tehran, Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq.
The newspaper believes that the danger of Pompeo’s warning to the United States is to the same extent as that characteristic of its decision to invade Iraq in 2003, because Iran in the Iraqi arena is “geographically close and is playing a long-term game while America is far away and wants immediate results.”
She added that Iraq has repeatedly been exposed to the US military deterrent force that cannot dictate political outcomes, noting that direct threats that appear to the public – such as Pompeo’s recent threats – rarely lead to the desired results.