The US State Department on Wednesday May 15th ordered all non-emergency personnel at the US Embassy and consulate in Iraq to leave the country amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, AP has reported.
Referring to the embassy and the US consulate in Erbil, the US embassy in Baghdad said in a security alert on its website, "Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq."
This comes amid a growing tension between the US and Iran, which has recently threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal and resume higher uranium enrichment if no new deal is put in place.
The move coincided with Germany's decision on Tuesday May 14th to suspend training of Iraqi soldiers due to tensions in the region, though the government indicated no specific threats to its own troops, Reuters has reported.
German Defence Ministry spokesperson Jens Flosdorff said that Germany is “orienting itself toward our partner countries, which have taken this step.”
The country currently has about 160 German soldiers in Iraq as part of the fight against Isis, about 60 of them at a base north of Baghdad where Iraqi forces are being trained.
On Monday May 13th Trump warned Iran that it would suffer greatly if the country does “anything,” referring to a possible attack, a remark that came in the wake of revelations that US military experts suggested Iran or its proxies damaged four commercial ships near the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) late on Sunday.
These developments came just days before the Iranian regime warned it could easily destroy a naval fleet sent by the United States in order to ward off a potential threat to US commercial interests.
Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad, a prominent cleric, threatened the US, saying: “Their billion[-dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile,” according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, the US sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf.
Mehrzad Boroujerdi, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, predicted in an interview with 7Dnews in April that the Iranian regime will try to undermine American power in the Middle East to the extent that they can.
Last week, US officials said urgent "credible threats" from Iran against Americans were detected and the embassy advised against all travel to the region, citing “heightened tensions.”
Late Monday, the New York Times reported that President Trump aides were discussing a plan to deploy more than 100,000 troops to the region. The president denied this Tuesday but added, “Would I do that? Absolutely ... If we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”
On Wednesday May 15th the Iraqi government announced that it will buy Russian S-400 air defence systems but the exact date of the purchase is yet to be decided, Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Haidar Hadi said.