US orders non-emergency personnel out of Iraq amid heightened Iran tensions

World Today

A warning to all U.S. government personnel in Iraq. The State Department ordered all non-emergency workers out of the country.

The security alert also advised U.S. citizens not to travel to Iraq. The moves come amid rising tensions with Iran.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

Mixed messages coming from Washington. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. doesn’t want war with Iran, but Wednesday the U.S. State Department said, “The U.S. State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees from Iraq, both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil.”

This move follows undisclosed intelligence from the U.S. that Shia militias in Iraq that are backed by Baghdad and Tehran may be prepared to threaten U.S. interests there. It’s worth noting that these militias recently worked in coordination with U.S. forces to help liberate ISIS controlled areas of Iraq, including Mosul.

The U.S. has already moved an aircraft carrier strike group into the area, B52 bombers and there are media reports of U.S. planning for possible large scale troop deployments.

Wednesday afternoon Pompeo met with President Trump at the White House.

The moves by Washington are part of a “Maximum Pressure” campaign against Iran one year after the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Washington has essentially imposed an oil export embargo against Tehran and added more economic sanctions and labeled the nations revolutionary guard group a terrorist organization. Iran’s supreme leader said the U.S. would be foolish to consider military action.

“There won’t be any war, with the help of God. We don’t seek a war, and they don’t either. They know it’s not in their interests,” Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.

Iran denied any confrontational moves and suggested that various members of the Trump administration, including National security Advisor John Bolton, whom Tehran labels “ The Moustache” is trying to engineer a crisis to carry out his long-held goal of regime change in Iran.

U.S. allies and others are resisting talk of military action. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Russia Tuesday and his counterpart Sergei Lavrov said he hoped the news of possible U.S . military action was just rumors. The European Union is also rejecting any need for confrontation instead focusing on diplomacy to save the Iran nuclear deal.

And in the region the British deputy commander of the anti-ISIL coalition questioned U.S. intelligence.

“No there’s been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria. We’re aware of their presence, clearly and we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in,” Deputy Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve Major Gen. Chris Ghika said.

That statement led to a lot of push back from the Pentagon, but as with the build-up to the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003 key allies of the U.S. cast doubt on U.S. intelligence.

U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned against more U.S. intervention in the Middle East. He has called the invasion of Iraq one of the worst mistakes in U.S. history. The coming days and weeks will test that campaign pledge.

Hamoud Salhi discusses the alert by the US StateDept to move “non-emergency” staff out of Ira

The State Department is ordering all “non-emergency” workers out of Iraq. Hamoud Salhi is a professor of Political Science at California State University Dominguez Hills. He spoke with CGTN’s Elaine Reyes about the significance of the U.S. move.