ERBIL — The United States has told the Iraqi government that it is planning to fully withdraw from its embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone, where it has recently become a regular target for rocket attacks by Iran-backed Shia militias.
The Wall Street Journal cited Iraqi and US officials as saying that the US ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, had told Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein that the policy decision had been directed by President Trump and that the two countries had entered a new era in their relations.
Two Iraqi officials confirmed that the Baghdad government was notified that Washington is beginning to take preliminary steps so it could close the embassy over the next few months while retaining its consulate in Erbil.
“What we’re being told is that it is a gradual closure of the embassy over two to three months,” the report quoted an Iraqi official.
It comes days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraqi President Barham Salih that his country would expect Baghdad to take decisive actions to stop the attacks on its embassy, or the diplomatic mission would be withdrawn.
However, former officials say that closing the embassy would greatly diminish the American influence in Iraq.
“We would be giving the Iranians more than they ever dreamed of,” said one former U.S. official who declined to be named. “This has been their major strategic goal: to get us out of Iraq.”