U.S. Removes “Non-Emergency” Personel from Iraq Among Tensions with Iran

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The U.S. State Department announced the withdrawal of all “non-emergency” personnel from Iraq – including personnel from the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil – on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, among high tensions with neighboring Iran. 

Image by tetracarbon from Pixabay with modifications
U.S. State Department announced that Iraq may no longer be safe for Americans amidst growing tensions with Iraq.

The State Department also went on to say, “The U.S. Government’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq is extremely limited.” They also strongly advise Americans against travelling to Iraq. The following quote makes this clear: “Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict.”

The State Department also announced the following, “given the increased threat stream we are seeing…the Secretary has decided to place Mission Iraq on ordered departure.” According to NATO website, “NATO Mission Iraq is a non-combat training and capacity building mission that is conducted with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is designed to help strengthen Iraqi security forces and Iraqi military education institutions so that Iraqi forces can prevent the return of ISIS/Daesh.”

The State Department’s statement stresses that Iraq is no longer safe for Americans”

The statement further urged Americans to avoid places known as gathering places for U.S. citizens and to keep a low profile. The State Department’s statement stresses that Iraq is no longer safe for Americans; however it isn’t Iraq that they’re worried about.

The State Department’s statement follows National Security Adviser John Bolton’s announcement earlier this month. He announced that the U.S. would be sending a carrier strike group to the Middle East to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran, following some heightened tensions in recent weeks.

Bolton has a long history of actions like these. He was part of George W. Bush’s administration and supported claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), which ended up being proven false. He continues to stand by the decision to go to war with Iraq today. He previously supported preemptive strikes against North Korea and Iran, as well as supporting regime change in Iran. Additionally, he attempted to oust a Brazilian diplomat from his post after he tried to get Iraq into the treaty which would allow outside investigators to see if Iraq really had nukes; he then supposedly threatened his family. Bolton also claimed that Cuba was developing nukes in cooperation with Libya and Iran, with no evidence to support it. Many believe him to be a war monger, and he continues to try to justify wars for the U.S.

The United States has yet to present evidence to support their claims of higher threat levels from Iran.”

The United States has yet to present evidence to support their claims of higher threat levels from Iran. The U.S. has further antagonized Iran with claims that they saw missiles being loaded onto Iranian boats. According to the New York Times, they have no evidence for this either, and Iran is denying all of these claims, and are attempting to cool the situation down. The antagonism of this Middle Eastern country and accusation of possession of heavy weaponry draws many comparisons to the lead up to the Iraq War when President George W. Bush accused Iraq of having WMDs. 

A war with Iran could be a long and bloody one. Many are saying that it would be an easy war for the United States – the same was said about Iraq prior to the invasion in March of 2003. 150,000 troops were sent to Iraq, and the invasion was over in a little over a month. Saddam Hussein had fled Baghdad, the police and army were dissolved and the entire ruling elite totally dissolved before American troops even arrived in the capitol. However, a massive insurgency started immediately, and U.S. troops were still fighting in Iraq until 2011. In addition, ISIS formed as a result of this, making things in the Middle East even tougher.

…draws many similarities to the actions of the Bush Administration prior to the Iraq War”

According to Slate, the Pentagon’s hypothetical plans for an invasion of Iran would call for 120,000 troops, fewer than were originally involved in the Invasion of Iraq. However, Iran is roughly three and a half times the size of Iraq and has over three times as many people. Iraq’s terrain was merely flat dessert, while Iran’s terrain is rough and mountainous. To make things even tougher, Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz – the waterway in which more than a quarter of the world’s oil is transported. Add that Iran’s army is much more professional and stronger than Iraq’s at the time, its proxies in Iraq could launch attacks against American troops, and Iran could launch effective cyber attacks against the U.S. Plus, America’s European allies would most likely not join the war against Iran, and they were a major component of the Invasion of Iraq.

The Trump Administration’s tensions with and antagonism of Iran draws many similarities to the actions of the Bush Administration prior to the Iraq War. A war against Iran would likely be a much tougher and bloodier war than Iraq was.