Iraqi political leader says U.S. intention to close embassy ‘dangerous development’

Head of Salvation and Development Front Osama al-Nujaifi (R) meets Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in Baghdad, Iraq, October 4, 2020. (UNAMI)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Head of Salvation and Development Front Osama al-Nujaifi said the U.S. intention to close its embassy in Baghdad is a “dangerous development” which will expose Iraq to isolation.

Nujaifi met with Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in Baghdad on Sunday (October 4).

Both sides discussed the latest political and security developments in Iraq and the upcoming parliamentary elections during the meeting.

“The developments that occurred after attacks on embassies and military convoys resulted in the U.S. intention to withdraw its embassy, and that is a dangerous development which will expose Iraq to isolation of state and new suffering for the Iraqi people,” Nujaifi was quoted as saying in a statement.

Nujaifi also stressed that Iraq should be kept away from international and regional conflicts, according to the statement.

Iraqi officials and Western diplomats have said the United States has made preparations to withdraw diplomats from Iraq after warning Baghdad it could close its embassy if attacks on the Americans continued

In recent weeks rocket attacks near the embassy have increased and roadside bombs targeted convoys carrying equipment to the U.S.-led military coalition. One roadside attack hit a British convoy in Baghdad, the first of its kind against Western diplomats in Iraq for years.

On Sept. 28, three children and two women were killed when two militia rockets hit a family home, the Iraqi military said. Police sources said Baghdad airport was the intended target.

Washington blames such attacks on Iranian-backed militia groups. Iran has not directly commented on the incidents but groups believed to be connected to Iran-aligned militias have claimed responsibility for some attacks.

On Friday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said in a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that U.S. withdrawal would not be “in the interest of the Iraqi people”.

“The Iraqi government has taken a number of security, organizational, political, and diplomatic measures to stop the attacks on the Green Zone and the airport,” Hussein was quoted as saying by the Iraqi foreign ministry.

Kadhimi said on Wednesday that Iraq would protect foreign mission buildings and ensure only the state has weapons, as the United States warned it could shut down its embassy in Baghdad if attacks continued on Americans.

“Iraq is keen on enforcing the rule of law, the state’s monopoly on having weapons, protecting foreign missions, and diplomatic buildings,” Kadhimi told 25 ambassadors and Charges d’Affaires of foreign countries during a meeting in Baghdad.

“Those who carry out attacks on foreign missions are seeking to destabilize Iraq and sabotage its regional and international relations,” he said.

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