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Baghdad Reassures US, UK of its Ability to Protect Diplomatic Missions

Baghdad Reassures US, UK of its Ability to Protect Diplomatic Missions

Tuesday, 29 September, 2020 - 04:45
An Iraqi security officer walks near the Arch of Victory memorial in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Iraq on June 24, 2019. (Reuters)

Confirming its commitment to upholding the security of diplomatic missions present on its land, Iraq on Monday condemned the “criminal gangs” responsible for firing rockets and missiles in Baghdad.

National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji met with the US and UK ambassadors to Iraq, Matthew Tueller and Stephen Hickey in an attempt at reassuring the two countries that Iraq is capable of protecting foreign diplomatic missions.

Araji’s media office said in a statement that the national security advisor and US ambassador discussed the latest developments in Iraq and the bilateral relations between Baghdad and Washington.

The statement added that Tueller had reiterated his country’s commitment to supporting Iraq in fighting terrorism.

This comes amid reports of Washington’s preparations for withdrawing its diplomatic mission in Baghdad.

Security expert Fadel Abou Ragheef said it was unlikely that Washington would shut its embassy in Baghdad.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that such a threat was being exaggerated in the media, explaining that it was difficult for the United States to “so simply abandon such a strategic position in the Middle East.”

Iraqi MP Dhafer Al-Ani, a member of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, predicted that US sanctions will likely follow the closure of the embassy,

“I have received information about Washington preparing a list of 40 names of leaders of the armed factions that it will issue financial and legal sanctions against them,” Al-Ani told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Al-Ani went on to say that Iraq is set to receive the same treatment Iran gets from Washington.

This includes economic sanctions, political isolation and the termination of all security and military cooperation, he explained.

“The decision to close embassies and withdraw diplomatic missions will be collective, as there are about 13 European diplomatic missions that will take the same stance as the US, in addition to a number of Arab countries that will follow suit,” Al-Ani warned.

On that note, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered the suspension of security forces at the airport following Monday's rocket attack which killed three children and two women.

The attack targeted the international airport but struck a residential home close by instead.

A statement from the military described the attack as a “cowardly crime" perpetrated by “criminal gangs” with the aim of creating chaos and terrorizing people. It also revealed that the rocket was launched from the al-Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad.

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