Pompeo Threatens to Close U.S. Embassy in Iraq Unless Militias Halt Attacks

Pompeo Threatens to Close U.S. Embassy in Iraq Unless Militias Halt Attacks

Pompeo Threatens to Close U.S. Embassy in Iraq Unless Militias Halt Attacks

Pompeo Threatens to Close U.S. Embassy in Iraq Unless Militias Halt Attacks

The foreign minister of Iraq, Fuad Hussein, traveled to Iran on Saturday to speak with Iranian leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani. He discussed Mr. Pompeo’s demands, one official said.

On Monday, two rockets killed two Iraqi women and three children at a home near the Baghdad airport, where some U.S. troops are stationed, Iraqi military officials said. Rocket attacks aimed at sites with Americans have occurred regularly since 2018.

Mr. Pompeo’s threat could be partly bluster aimed at galvanizing Iraqi political and military leaders and forcing the government to choose between the United States or Iran, with which Shiite officials in Iraq share a religious and cultural history.

But the State Department has begun a review process to close the embassy, U.S. officials said, with a decision expected before the Nov. 3 election.

Barbara A. Leaf, who was a senior diplomat in Iraq in 2010 and 2011 and later served as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates until 2018, said shutting down the embassy could hand Iran and Iraqi militias “a propaganda victory of epic proportions.” And issuing the threat in the first place was also “very risky and potentially counterproductive,” she said.

“This has stimulated an already raging appetite on the part of the Iranian-affiliated militias to push harder for what they and Iran want — the U.S. out altogether,” said Ms. Leaf, who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “And that would significantly impair our own national security interests, as well as potentially destabilize Iraq further down the road.”

The plan would relocate the American ambassador to Iraq, Matthew H. Tueller, to either the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, a city in Iraq’s northern, semiautonomous Kurdish region, or to the sprawling Al Asad Air Base in western Anbar province, where American troops are stationed and which Mr. Trump visited in December 2018.


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