On Friday, September 28, US Department of State decided to close and evacuate its consulate in Basrah of Iraq. US State Department cited the security reasons for closure of the consulate. Spokeswoman of State Department, Heather Nauert said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made the determination to place consulate Basrah on ordered departure.
Heather Nauert wrote on twitter, “Secretary Pompeo has placed U.S. Consulate Basrah on ordered departure. US embassy Baghdad will continue to provide full consular services to for those in and around Basrah. We remain strongly committed to supporting Iraqis in the southern provinces and throughout the country”.
.@SecPompeo has placed U.S. Consulate Basrah on ordered departure. @USEmbBaghdad will continue to provide full consular services to for those in and around #Basrah. We remain strongly committed to supporting Iraqis in the southern provinces and throughout the country. pic.twitter.com/QsAw2Ie4ns
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) September 28, 2018
On the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly in New York, Secretary Pompeo said that the decision was taken to protect American personnel against the violence. He said, “Given the increasing and specific threats and incitements to attack our personnel and facilities in Iraq. I have directed that an appropriate temporary relocation of diplomatic personnel in Iraq take place”.
Southern Iraqi city Basrah is facing violent protests for last many days, as protesters are blaming Iran for interfaring into the internal political affairs if Iraq. Few days after Iranian consulate in Basrah was set on fire and damaged, Iranian militia in Iraq vowed for revenge of damage and a week later three missiles were fired on Basrah airport, home to US consulates. No casualties were feared in missile attack on airport but US alleged Iran and its associated proxies for the missile attack.
In response to that Pompeo said, “I have advised the Government of Iran that the United States will hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to Americans or to our diplomatic facilities in Iraq or elsewhere and whether perpetrated by Iranian forces directly or by associated proxy militia”.
A senior Iraqi official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, dismissed Pompeo’s claims of security reasons to close the consulate. As quotes by Washington Post, the official said, “We are not aware of any intention by Iran or its friends in Iraq to attack American diplomats or the consulate”. And cited it is a politically motivated move.