An Iraqi politician has warned of an “imminent” American war as Washington threatens to target dozens of Iraqi sites linked to the Arab country’s resistance groups if it follows through with a threat to close its embassy in Baghdad.
According to a report by the Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal, the United States has drawn up a list of 80 Iraqi sites linked to the Arab country’s resistance groups if it follows through with a threat to close its embassy in Baghdad.
The sites include secret headquarters and shelters used by Hadi al-Amiri and Qais Khazali, the respective leaders of the Badr Organization and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), as well as sites associated with Kataeb Hezbollah, a faction of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known as Hash al-Sha’abi.
“The Americans’ message was clear. If you don’t react, we will,” a prominent Shia politician, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told MEE.
“Allowing this to happen means an open war in Baghdad, and America’s exit from Baghdad means that this war is imminent,” the source said.
Political leaders and commanders told MEE that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had shared hundreds of satellite images of the 80 sites with Iraqi President Barham Salih during a phone call in September.
Pompeo, they said, also informed Salih of Washington’s plans to close its embassy in Baghdad unless Iraq prevents rocket attacks targeting the Green Zone, where the fortified building is located.
Pompeo’s threat caused alarm in Baghdad where supporters of Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government did not imagine that the Iraqi prime minister, who was warmly welcomed to the White House in August, would be abandoned so quickly by Washington.
They fear that the US decision to close embassy in Baghdad could result in political and economic collapse.
“All signs indicate that we are heading into a perfect storm. The Americans’ withdrawal means an economic collapse within two weeks, followed by a political collapse in two or three months, then a security breakdown and the fall of the government,” a senior Iraqi official familiar with the discussions told MEE, speaking on condition of anonymity.
However, the commander of an Iraqi resistance group dismissed the threatened closure of the embassy as part of a “political game” being played by Washington.
“In our assessment, the crisis is fabricated and the aim is to place the greatest possible pressure on the anti-American forces to give [the Americans] more space in Iraq,” the unnamed commander told MEE.
“The talk about closing the US embassy in Iraq is a clear lie, and no politician with any experience can believe it,” he said.
Anti-American sentiments have been running high in Iraq since the US assassinated Iran’s anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Baghdad on January 3.
Just days later, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passed a bill mandating the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.
Iraqi resistance groups have pledged to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.