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US Pulls Out Personnel From Iraq Over 'Imminent' Iran Threat

US Pulls Out Personnel From Iraq Over 'Imminent' Iran Threat

Thursday, 16 May, 2019 - 09:30
Iraqi President Barham Salih in Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 3, 2018 (AP)
Baghdad- Hamza Mustafa
Iraqi President Barham Salih stressed Wednesday the necessity of prioritizing the national interest and distancing the country from the policy of axes, amid concerns of Iraq transforming into a possible field for the US-Iran tensions.

Washington ordered Wednesday the departure of non-emergency US employees from US embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil.

"Ensuring the safety of US government personnel and citizens is our highest priority ... and we want to reduce the risk of harm," a State Department spokesperson said.

"Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-US sectarian militias may also threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq," added the statement.

In the same context, the German government said the country's military has suspended training of Iraqi soldiers due to tensions in the region between the US and Iran.

German Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff said that "there is no concrete threat" and the decision is down to the security situation, in general, being viewed as more tense. Germany currently has about 160 German soldiers in Iraq as part of the fight against the ISIS group, about 60 of them at a base north of Baghdad and 100 in Erbil.

Further, the ministry of defense has suspended its training missions in Iraq because of the threats. The Netherlands has more than 50 trainers working with Iraqi Kurdish forces in Erbil.

Moreover, a presidential statement of which Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper received a copy indicated that Salih received a member of Fatih bloc of Hadi al-Amiri, who is also the head of Badr Organization. The meeting discussed the latest political and security updates on the local and regional levels, added the statement.

Mohammed al-Ghabban, former interior minister and a leader of the Fatah-affiliated Badr Organization, told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is in the best interest of Iraq not to be part of the policy of axes. He described the issue as complex and highlighted the need for wisdom and decisiveness in dealing with it.

National security professor at the Nahrain University Dr. Hussein Allawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US decision indicates that the US government takes into consideration the military condition and the regional challenges, noting that the Iraqi government is bound to protect the US diplomatic mission in Iraq.

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