Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein traveled to Iran on Saturday to speak to Iranian leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani. He discussed Mr Pompeo’s demands, an official said.
On Monday, two missiles killed two Iraqi women and three children in a house near Baghdad airport where some US troops are stationed, Iraqi military officials said. Since 2018 there have been regular missile attacks on locations with Americans.
The threat from Mr Pompeo could be aimed in part at motivating Iraq’s 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 launched a review process to shut down the embassy, US officials said, with a decision expected before the November 3rd 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 through 2018, said closing the embassy could bring the Iranian and Iraqi militias “a propaganda victory of epic proportions”. And speaking out the threat at all is “very risky and potentially counterproductive,” she said.
“This has sparked an already frenzied appetite from the Iranian militia to do more for what they and Iran want – the US as a whole,” said Ms. Leaf, now at the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy. “And that would seriously affect our own national security interests and potentially destabilize Iraq later.”
The plan would move the American ambassador to Iraq, Matthew H. Tueller, either to the US consulate in Erbil, a city in the northern, semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, or to the sprawling Al Asad Air Base in the western province of Anbar. where American troops are stationed and which Mr. Trump visited in December 2018.