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Archive for Iraq

Newsline: Iraq to reopen embassy in Libya

Iraq will reopen its embassy in Libya nine years after the mission was closed for security reasons, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Al-Sahhaf stated that “Iraq decided to reopen its embassy in Libya and resume diplomatic work to strengthen bilateral relations between the countries,” according to the Iraqi News Agency (INA). (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iraq-to-reopen-embassy-in-libya-after-9-years/2864307) This comes about three weeks after Iraq announced its desire to reopen its embassy in Tripoli. On March 16, Al-Sahhaf stated that the decision came during meetings held by an official Iraqi delegation with the Libyan side. There was no comment from the Libyan side on this matter. Several countries, including Iraq, closed their diplomatic missions in Libya in 2014 amid intense armed clashes in the country.

Newsline: US Embassy Identifies American Killed in Baghdad

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has identified an American aid worker and language instructor who was fatally shot in the Iraqi capital as 45-year-old Stephen Edward Troell, the Embassy said Tuesday. The embassy said it was closely monitoring an investigation begun by Iraqi authorities, but declined to comment further out of respect for his mourning family, the embassy statement said. A State Department official said he was a private citizen with no connection to the government. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to go on the record. (https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2022-11-08/u-s-identifies-american-slain-in-baghdad-questions-remain) Troell, a native of Tennessee, was killed by unknown assailants in his car as he pulled up to the street where he lived with his family in Baghdad’s central Karrada district. It was a rare killing of a foreigner in Iraq, where security conditions have improved in recent years.

Newsline: Dutch embassy in Baghdad evacuated

Personnel working at the Dutch embassy in Baghdad have been evacuated following the outbreak of the worst violence the Iraqi capital has seen in years. Staff have been relocated to the German embassy, in another part of the city, after unrest that has killed at least 15 people. ‘Fire fights are taking place around the compound. The German embassy is far outside this area,’ the foreign affairs ministry told NOS. (https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2022/08/dutch-embassy-in-baghdad-evacuated/) Violence broke out after influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced he was leaving politics. The Dutch embassy is in the middle of the so-called Green Zone, an area of the city with many foreign embassies and government buildings. Protesters pulled down security barriers and stormed the government palace. The country is now under a nationwide curfew. The ministry advises any Dutch citizen in the country to leave immediately.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Iraq not being evacuated

Reports of the U.S. Embassy being under threat are “false,” John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said. “There’s no evacuation going on at the embassy and no indication that’s going to be required at this time,” Kirby told reporters on a call on Monday. He called reports of unrest throughout the country “disturbing” and expressed concern that “Iraqi institutions are not being allowed to function.” (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/white-house-calls-violence-in-iraq-e2-80-98disturbing-e2-80-99-but-says-embassy-not-being-evacuated/ar-AA11eJLN) Media reports indicated that multiple people were killed and several were injured in clashes in the Green Zone in Baghdad after Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced he plans to withdraw from political life. CNN reported Monday that security forces fired tear gas and bullets as a crowd of protesters forced their way inside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified area in the Iraqi capital. The United Nations (U.N.) Assistance Mission in Iraq urged protesters to leave the Green Zone and vacate government buildings.

Newsline: Australian diplomats targeted by explosive device in Baghdad

A small homemade explosive detonated on Friday near Baghdad’s Green Zone as an Australian diplomatic convoy made its way into the area, two security officials told The Associated Press. (https://thehill.com/homenews/ap/ap-international/ap-explosive-detonates-in-baghdad-targets-australian-diplomats/) No injuries were reported. Despite the explosion, the Australian convoy was able to enter the Green Zone. The blast happened amid Australia’s diplomatic mission’s efforts to mediate between influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and an Iran-backed faction of rival Shiite parties, according to the security officials, to end one of Iraq’s worst political crises in recent years.

Newsline: Explosion reported inside UK embassy in Baghdad

Iraqi media reported Sunday that an explosion was heard from inside the British Embassy in Baghdad. Iraqi sources reported an explosion inside the British Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday afternoon. The Baghdad Al-Youm news website reported that the explosion took place near the UK Embassy in the Green Zone. Meanwhile, the Sabrin News Telegram channel, citing sources, reported that the gas canisters in the kitchen of the British Embassy in the Green Zone may have exploded. Also, Shafaq News reported, quoting a security source, that an explosion took place inside the British Embassy compound. (https://en.mehrnews.com/news/190490/Explosion-reported-inside-UK-embassy-in-Baghdad) The source said that a gas canister exploded in the kitchen inside the embassy, but there were no casualties.

Newsline: Iran blacklists U.S. ambassador in Iraq, reciprocating U.S. move

Iran blacklisted the U.S. ambassador in Iraq and two other diplomats, following a similar move by the United States against Iran’s envoy to Baghdad, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said. Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter that ambassador Matthew Tueller “has had a central role in coordinating terrorist acts in Iraq & beyond” including the assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad in January. (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-blacklists-u-ambassador-iraq-115646897.html) Tehran’s move, which allows the seizure of assets within Iran of sanctioned individuals, is symbolic and unlikely to have any impact on the U.S. diplomats. On Thursday, the United States blacklisted Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, saying he has for years overseen the training and support of Iraqi militia groups responsible for attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

Newsline: U.S. pleased Iraq doing more to protect U.S. embassy

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the United States was pleased that the Iraqi government was doing more to protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad from Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militias but declined to provide an update on whether Washington was still considering to shut down its embassy. “We are happy that the Iraqis are doing more to provide increased security for our team on the ground there,” Pompeo told a State Department news conference. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iraq-pompeo/u-s-pleased-iraq-doing-more-to-protect-u-s-embassy-pompeo-idUSKBN26Z28Y) Washington, which is slowly reducing its 5,000 troops in Iraq, threatened last month to shut its embassy unless the Iraqi government reins in Iran-aligned militias that have attacked U.S. interests with rockets and roadside bombs. A spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq, on Sunday said it has suspended rocket attacks on U.S. forces on condition that Iraq’s government present a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops.

Newsline: Iraq denounces ‘dangerous’ US embassy pullout threat

Iraq’s foreign minister has said his country hopes the United States will reconsider its decision to close its diplomatic mission in Baghdad, as a group of ambassadors expressed their willingness to help Iraq tackle security challenges. Fuad Hussein spoke at a news conference during a heated week sparked by the US warning it was taking measures to close its embassy in Baghdad. “We hope that the US government and American administration will reconsider this decision … because the decision is a wrong one, it was taken at the wrong time and the wrong place,” Hussein said. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/9/30/iraq-hopes-us-reconsiders-embassy-closure-warns-of-danger) He said it would also send a message to the armed groups perpetuating the attacks that they were effective in reaching their political aims. The US said the embassy would be closed unless the Iraqi government took action to stop frequent rocket and improvised explosive device attacks by Iran-backed groups and rogue armed elements against the American presence in the country.

Newsline: Threat to evacuate U.S. diplomats from Iraq raises fear of war

Washington has made preparations to withdraw diplomats from Iraq after warning Baghdad it could shut its embassy, two Iraqi officials and two Western diplomats said, a step Iraqis fear could turn their country into a battle zone. Any move by the United States to reduce its diplomatic presence in a country where it has up to 5,000 troops would be widely seen in the region as an escalation of its confrontation with Iran, which Washington blames for missile and bomb attacks. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iraq-iran/threat-to-evacuate-u-s-diplomats-from-iraq-raises-fear-of-war-idUSKBN26J1Z6) That in turn would open the possibility of military action, with just weeks to go before an election in which President Donald Trump has campaigned on a hard line towards Tehran and its proxies. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to close the embassy in a phone call a week ago to President Barham Salih, two Iraqi government sources said. The conversation was initially reported by an Iraqi news website. By Sunday, Washington had begun preparations to withdraw diplomatic staff if such a decision is taken, those sources and the two Western diplomats said. The concern among the Iraqis is that withdrawing diplomats would be followed quickly by military action against forces Washington blamed for attacks.