Kadhimi says he received no threats from U.S.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi chairs a meeting of Council of Ministers, September 30, 2020. (PM office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Saturday he had not received any threat from the United States, after Washington warned Iraq that it would shut its embassy if attacks did not stop on Americans.

Kadhimi said in an interview with state-run al-Iraqiya channel that Iraq would plunge into “direct economic collapse” if the United States continued to close its embassy in Baghdad.

Iraqi officials and Western diplomats said the United States had 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.

The Iraqi prime minister said there were groups trying to obstruct relations between Iraq and the United States.

“I have not received any threat from the United States, and we will not accept any threat from any country. And what we have come to is American annoyance and concerns about the security of their diplomatic missions in Iraq, and this is their right,” Kadhimi said.

“There are parties and people who obstruct our relations with Washington. We are determined to protect the international diplomats,” Kadhimi added.

Any move by the United States to reduce its diplomatic presence in a country where it has thousands of troops would be seen in the region as an escalation of its confrontation with Iran, which Washington blames for missile and bomb 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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