A senior Iraqi lawmaker said reports of a U.S. attempt to close its embassy in Baghdad after recent missile attacks are “unfounded” rumors intended to force the Iraqi government to give in to Washington’s demands.
Kate ‘Al-Rikabi, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, said the U.S. is using the indirect threat to close its embassy in Baghdad to pressure Iraq to comply with its demands.
“Foreign media are trying to provoke public opinion in Iraq by spreading rumors about the closure of the U.S. embassy,” he said, according to Baghdad al-Youm.
A US State Department official told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the US embassy in Baghdad was open. “The U.S. ambassador is present in the embassy in Baghdad, and our embassy is doing its job.”
This came after the U.S. news website Axios claimed the U.S. was considering quickly closing its embassy in Baghdad following a series of missile attacks on Iraq’s Green Zone.
Several Katyusha missiles were fired at the Green Zone on Sunday, killing one Iraqi civilian and causing minor damage to the perimeter of the U.S. embassy complex.
Al-Rikabi said the missile attacks mainly endanger the lives of innocent civilians and the government must find the real perpetrators who are trying to undermine the country’s stability.
“Terrorist groups or foreign-backed entities could be behind such attacks,” he added.
The U.S. Embassy has been targeted several times this year after anti-American sentiment rose in the Arab country following the Jan. 3 assassinations in Baghdad of Iranian counterterrorism commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Following the Trump-approved terrorist act, Iraq’s parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.
UN and Iraq outraged over Trump’s pardon for Blackwater war criminal
Anti-American sentiment has continued to grow in recent days as Iraqis are outraged over the U.S. president’s decision to pardon Blackwater contractors who were imprisoned for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, in 2007.
On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to four mercenaries from the notorious U.S. firm Blackwater who were serving prison sentences for shelling Baghdad’s crowded Nisour Square in 2007 and killing 14 civilians. This was a tragic incident that caused international uproar over the use of private contractors in war zones.
The Iraqi parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday strongly condemned Trump’s clemency and called for the termination or revision of contracts with American security companies operating in the Arab country.
Blackwater founder Erik Prince is the brother of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and a strong ally of the Trump administration.
by Basit Abbasi – UN