Iraq not happy with ‘dangerous’ US pullout threat

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Baghdad is “not happy” with a “dangerous” threat by Washington to pull its troops and diplomats out of Iraq, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said on Wednesday.

Several political and diplomatic sources have told AFP that United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum last week that all US personnel would leave Iraq unless the government puts a stop to a rash of attacks against them.

“A US withdrawal could lead to further pullouts” by members of the US-led coalition fighting militants, which would be “dangerous, because the Islamic State (IS) group threatens not only Iraq but the whole region,” the minister said.

“We hope that the US will re-think its decision,” which at the moment is only “preliminary”, Hussein added.

“Some people in Washington make parallels with Benghazi but it’s a faulty analysis, just as this is a faulty decision,” he said, referring to Libya’s second city.

Four US personnel, including the ambassador to Libya, were killed in Benghazi in 2012, when extremist militants among a crowd of protesters stormed the US consulate.

Between October 2019 and July this year in Iraq, around 40 rocket attacks have targetted the US embassy or bases housing US troops.

Since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi was received in the White House amid great fanfare in August, the frequency of such attacks has increased significantly.