SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that Iran is still posing a threat to Iraq, as six days left in President Donald Trump’s term.
“We worked with him to reclaim & protect Iraq’s sovereignty,” Pompeo said in a tweet early on Thursday, referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
“Good progress, especially crushing ISIS [Islamic State], but Iran is still a threat. Have to keep pushing,” he added.
U.S.-Iranian tensions have risen since Trump two years ago abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and restored harsh economic sanctions designed to force Tehran into a wider negotiation on curbing its nuclear program, development of ballistic missiles and support for regional proxy forces.
U.S. officials have said there will be no slowdown in the pressure campaign on Iran in the final days of the Trump administration.
Republican Trump is due to hand over power on Jan. 20 to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden who has said the United States will rejoin the nuclear deal “if Iran resumes strict compliance.”
Advisers to Biden believe the Trump administration is trying to make it harder for him to re-engage with Iran.
In December, Pompeo said the United States supports Kadhimi in “his push” against Iranian-backed militias, which the U.S. accuses of attacks on its embassy and bases housing American troops in Baghdad.
Pompeo also said in November that the U.S. was working to help build up Kadhimi and his team in order to be free and independent.
“We are working to help build up prime minister al-Kadhimi and his team so that they can be free, independent and sovereign in exactly the way the Iraqi people are demanding,” Pompeo said in an interview with Al Arabiya.
He added that the Iraqis did not want to be under the “jackboot of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and that they “want a free, independent Iraq.”