US Demands Iraq Uphold Sovereignty after ‘Assaults by Iran’
The State Department has urged Iraqi leaders to oppose Iranian interventionism in the country, a day after three projectiles struck the interior of the US Embassy compound in Baghdad. A statement released on behalf of top US diplomat Mike Pompeo expressed his “outrage at the continued assaults by Iran’s armed groups against US facilities in Iraq,” adding that they “demonstrate[d] a wanton disregard for Iraqi sovereignty and a failure to rein in these dangerous [Iranian proxies].” Pompeo himself subsequently tweeted that “the government of #Iraq must take immediate steps to protect our diplomatic facilities as required by international law.” The US has blamed Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces for numerous attacks against US assets in Iraq, which has become the primary battleground in a low-intensity conflict pitting Washington against Tehran. Following numerous tit-for-tat military exchanges over the past few months, tensions between the rivals exploded on January 3 with the death in a US drone strike of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Iran responded by launching a coordinated ballistic-missile attack on two Iraqi bases that left some three dozen US soldiers with possible traumatic brain injuries. Iraq was already destabilized by anti-government protests that erupted in October and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi. He nevertheless remains in office in a caretaker capacity due to the inability of competing Iraqi political factions – including those aligned with Tehran – to agree on the formation of a new cabinet.