Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has evacuated diplomats from the U.S. consulate in Basra after what he called “increasing and specific threats and incitement to attack” U.S. personnel in Iraq emanating from Iran.
Basra has been the scene of violent protests this month, including rocket attacks on the consulate that occurred as recently as today. While the Basra consulate is shuttered, a statement from Pompeo indicated that the risk to U.S. diplomats exists in Baghdad as well, where he said forces loyal to Iran had launched indirect fire attacks.
He said any harm to U.S. personnel will lead to Iran being held “directly responsible,” and conveyed that message through the Iraqi government, over which Iranian influence is growing. Iran’s escalating threats in Iraq cap a week that has seen the Trump administration launch a diplomatic broadside against Tehran in the United Nations and insist that 2,000 U.S. troops will remain in Syria until Iran withdraws its own.