The U.S. mission to Iraq ended the year on a violent Tuesday, when supporters of an Iran-backed militia broke through the gates of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, destroyed property, and took U.S. diplomats into cover.
Developments questioned the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq when lawmakers and others in Washington discussed the importance of the crisis and how the United States should respond.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchumer again calls on witnesses to testify as part of an impeachment proceeding after the Game Changer report. Tulsi Gabbard: Impeachment has “significantly increased” the likelihood of Trump’s re-election, and GOP re-conqueror Susan Collins says it is “open” to witness impeachment proceedings against the Senate MORE and its proponents blame Iran for the incident on Tuesday and make the embassy’s drama the latest chapter in US-Iran tensions, some of which fear they could lead to war.
Iran is now planning an attack on the US embassy in Iraq. You will be held fully responsible, ”Trump tweeted. “We also expect Iraq to use its armed forces to protect the message.”
However, Trump’s critics blamed him and accused him of an unpredictable Middle East policy that led to Tuesday’s scene.
“The attack on our embassy in Baghdad is horrific but predictable,” said Senator Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats, acquitting ObamaCare Trump will raise Democrats’ concern that the party will miss the political opportunities for ObamaCare Trump and Russia before crucial year of arms control stands -Conn.) Tweeted. “Trump has rendered America powerless in the Middle East. Nobody fears us, nobody listens to us. America has pushed into safe spaces in the hope that the bad guys will go away. Such a shame.”
The recent surge in tension was triggered last weekend when the Trump administration blamed the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia for an attack that killed one US contractor and injured four US soldiers.
In response, the US launched air strikes on five Kataib Hezbollah targets in Iraq and Syria on Sunday, killing at least 25 militia fighters.
Thousands of demonstrators stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in early Tuesday in response to the air strikes. Some of the demonstrators sang “Death to America” in militia uniforms. Pictures were taken of demonstrators who broke through the walls of the site and started small fires in the facility.
Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperSchumer once again calls on witnesses to testify in impeachment proceedings. US air strikes take tensions with Iran to new levels The Iranian-backed militia says US strikes killed 25 He was deployed to the Baghdad facility to strengthen security and urged Iraq to protect the country Embassy staff.
A State Department spokesman said the US ambassador to Iraq would return to the embassy after a previously planned trip.
Iraq has been hit by anti-government protests in recent months, in part due to resistance to Iranian influence in the country. There were also more general concerns about all foreign influences, including those from the United States, but Tuesday’s protesters came from different factions than the previous protests.
Trump, who has spent the last 10 days at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, has not yet made public appearances to discuss the escalating situation in the Middle East, but posted several tweets on Tuesday.
In addition to the tweet accusing Iran of staging the attack, Trump tweeted a request to “the many millions of people in Iraq who want freedom and who don’t want to be controlled and controlled by Iran,” and said to them: ” This is your time! “
Trump has met with members of his national security team in the past few days. The president spent nearly an hour at his West Palm Beach golf club on Tuesday, where he said he had “a very good meeting about the Middle East, the military, and trade.”
Esper, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchumer once again calls on witnesses to testify in impeachment proceedings after Game Changer report was released. US air strikes take tensions with Iran to new levels. Pompeo: I don’t want to run for the Senate MORE and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Trump in Mar-a-Lago on Sunday of the consequences of the U.S. airstrikes in the Middle East and put other options to prevent them of “bad behavior” in the region.
Trump has made the confrontation with Iran a cornerstone of his foreign policy, but tries to reconcile his harsh rhetoric with his desire to avoid further involvement in external wars.
Last year was marked by several conflict-related events, including in June after the US alleged that Iran had shot down an American drone and in September after an attack on Saudi oil factories.
When the embassy was attacked on Tuesday, Iranian hawks in the US pointed their fingers at Tehran.
“When an Iran-backed militia killed an American in Iraq last week, it met with a resounding response.” The air strikes by Senator Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonUS lead to tensions with Iran at a new level Valley: Electoral security financing receives mixed feedback Facebook tests community fact checking | Legislators Are Trying To Block Chinese Decision For IP Organization | Secret judge blames FBI for surveillance powers MORE (R-Ark.) Tweeted. “Now our embassy in Baghdad – sovereign US territory – has been attacked in another ruthless escalation. As the President notes, Iran must be held responsible. “
Senator Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioUS air strikes raise tensions with Iran to a new level The most expensive races in the past decade The biggest political turmoil of the decade MORE (R-Fla.) Cited arguments that US actions led to the “garbage” attack , While Senator Lindsey Graham Lindsey Olin GrahamUS airstrikes take tensions with Iran to a new level, Trump golfers came to the table with Graham before the impeachment process. The Republicans warned Iran that “they continue to threaten American interests” at their own peril. “
The storm on the U.S. embassy in Iraq on Tuesday has also given rise to historical comparisons.
John BoltonJohn BoltonSchumer again calls on witnesses to testify in impeachment proceedings. Susan Collins says she is open to calling witnesses to the Senate’s impeachment proceedings. Will a majority of senators pursue the truth about everything else? Doug Jones interviewed one of Trump’s former national security advisers, who described Tuesday’s incident in Baghdad as “straight out of Iran’s 1979 playbook” when the Iranians stormed the US embassy in Tehran and triggered the hostage crisis in Iran.
The events in Iraq also alluded to the 2012 attack on the U.S. property in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.
Graham, who said he met with Trump on Tuesday to discuss the situation, promised that there would be “no more Benghazis”.
“President Trump is determined to protect American personnel and expects our Iraqi partners to step up on the table,” Graham tweeted.
The Iraqi security forces are reported to have done nothing to prevent the demonstrators from advancing until a commandant arrives and asks them to do so.
Trump spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi on Tuesday and “stressed the need to protect US personnel and facilities in Iraq,” the White House said.
Pompeo also spoke separately to al-Mahdi and Iraqi President Barham Salih after the embassy was violated, making it clear to them that the United States would “protect and defend its people”.
They in turn assured Pompeo that “they would ensure the security and protection of US personnel and property,” the State Department said on the calls.
On Monday, the Iraqi government issued a sensational statement condemning US strikes against Kataib Hezbollah. The United States violated Iraqi sovereignty by leading it unilaterally. The government added that it would review the relationship with the US-led coalition in Iraq.
Iraq continued to condemn the strikes in the US on Tuesday, but also promised to respond to “any act of aggression or harassment” against a message.
“While we condemn the US airstrikes on Iraqi military units and recognize that symbolic funeral marches are a solemn act of remembrance for the martyrs, participants must stay away from diplomatic buildings and buildings,” al-Mahdi said in a statement.
“Iraqi security forces will respond to any act of aggression or harassment of foreign embassies in Iraq, and those responsible will be exposed to the full force of the law,” he added.
Given the worsening situation, Democrats have called for tensions to be eased as they raised concerns about the security of US personnel.
Spokeswoman Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSusan Collins says she is “open” to call witnesses against Giuliani’s impeachment lawsuit to transfer iPhone data, documents to House Democrats to focus again on healthcare in the new year deserves protection from the Iraqi host government and a smart, strong national security strategy from US leaders. Escalation and violence must end. “
“The storming of our embassy in Baghdad by protesters and Iranian-backed militias is deeply troubling,” said Adam Schiff Adam Bennett SchiffObama, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee as the White House defends impeachment proceedings, MORE (D-Calif.) Said in his own tweet , “The top priority is the safety of our staff. Iraq is obliged to protect them. Once secured, we need to have clear eyes to reduce tensions and pave the way forward. “
Senator Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats highlight Iraqi opposition to U.S. strikes and fear that acquittal against the Trump FDA impeachment process will officially raise the tobacco buying age to 21 years. tweeted that “Trump’s misconduct in the region makes us less certain. It’s time for Congress to stop this stupid rush for war. “