[pjw] NEWS/ACTION reminder: US Orders Embassy Staff from Iraq + emergency plan

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Wed May 15 14:12:22 EDT 2019

Iraq Affinity Group supporters

The US has ramped up its sabre rattling against Iran in a hugely (or 
should I say "bigly") concerning way. In addition to sending "messages" to 
Iran by deploying ships

(Navy strike group deployed to send "message" to Iran - Politico 5/5)

and aircraft

(US B-52 bombers reach Middle East in message to Iran - Reuters 5/10)

they ordered staff out of their giant embassy in Baghdad, releasing plans 
to send 120,000 troops and blaming an attack on oil tankers in Iran (see 

As I said at the Iraq Affinity Group meeting Monday, the US should start 
practicing using emails or maybe telegrams if they want to send messages, 
not weapons of war.

This seems like a good time to put out the reminder that:

The standing call to action for if the US launches an attack on another 
country is to meet at 4 PM at Terry Schrunk Plaza, SW 3rd and Jefferson, 
on the day of the attack, or 4 PM the day after. If you are able to help 
mobilize quickly (and have a vehicle that can hold protest signs) if such 
an attack happens please contact us at 503-236-3065.

Please spread widely, though I hope we do not need that info.

--dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

US orders embassy staff from Iraq amid Iran 'threat'
Paul HANDLEY,AFP May 15, 2019

Washington (AFP) - The US on Wednesday ordered all non-emergency staff to 
leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil, ramping up alarm over 
an alleged Iran threat even as allies appeared less than convinced.

A senior Democratic senator demanded President Donald Trump's 
administration brief Congress on the Iran threat, warning that the US 
legislature has not approved military action against Tehran.

And Moscow expressed concerns that both Washington and Tehran were 
dangerously stoking tensions, as the Pentagon ramped up its forces in the 
Gulf with B-52 bombers, Patriot missiles and an aircraft carrier task 

The embassy evacuation came 10 days after Trump's national security 
advisor John Bolton announced the military deployment in response to 
intelligence on an unspecified "imminent" plot by Iran to attack US forces 
or allies.

The State Department warned Wednesday of numerous "terrorist and insurgent 
groups" active in the country, including "anti-US sectarian militias" who 
could "threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq."

The warning did not mention Iran specifically, but "anti-US sectarian 
militias" points to Iran-backed groups.

A State Department spokesman told AFP the departure of non-emergency 
personnel came in response to "the increased threat stream we are seeing 
in Iraq."

- Possible attacks -

Washington says it has received intelligence on possible attacks by 
Iranian or Iranian-backed forces, possibly targeting US bases in Iraq or 

Some observers speculate that Tehran is seeking to retaliate to 
Washington's decision in April to designate the Islamic Revolutionary 
Guard Corps of Iran as a terrorist organization in an effort to stymie 
their activities across the Middle East.

But since the first US warning on May 5, the only activity seen has been a 
still-mysterious "attack" Monday on four tankers anchored off Fujairah, a 
UAE port at the strategically crucial entrance to the Gulf.

One or more vessels incurred light hull damage, but what caused the damage 
and who was behind it remains unknown.

US allies in Iraq have refrained from echoing Washington's warning cry.

Major General Chris Ghika, a British spokesman for Operation Inherent 
Resolve, the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said Tuesday 
there was no special heightened alert, and that OIR troops were always on 
guard against possible attacks.

After Ghika's comments drew a sharp retort from the US Central Command, 
Britain's defense ministry said Wednesday they have "long been clear about 
our concerns over Iran's destabilising behavior in the region" -- while 
still not confirming any new imminent danger.

Germany and the Netherlands said Wednesday they were suspending training 
of soldiers in Iraq; German defence ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff said 
there was "generally heightened alert, awareness" among soldiers in the 
region, but gave no specifics.

Separately, the Netherlands' defense ministry said it was suspending a 
training mission in Iraq due to "threats," according to the Dutch ANP news 

- US, Iran both deny war plans -

Both Washington and Tehran said Tuesday they were not seeking war.

"This face-off is not military because there is not going to be any war. 
Neither we nor them (the US) seek war," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said 

"We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran," echoed US Secretary of 
State Mike Pompeo in Sochi, Russia.

But Russia, a major backer of Tehran, expressed concern Wednesday that 
Pompeo's assurances had not quelled the crisis.

"So far we notice the continued escalation of tensions around this 
subject," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, a day after Pompeo met 
with President Vladimir Putin.

Peskov said Washington had provoked Iran, but added that "we are saddened 
to see the decisions taken by the Iranian side."

In the US Congress Democrats demanded to know why the Trump administration 
was boosting its forces in the Gulf and, according to media reports, 
considering military plans including the possibility of sending 120,000 US 
troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American assets.

"The Trump administration has not provided any information to this 
committee on the intelligence behind their decisions, or what they plan to 
do in Iraq or Iran," said Senator Bob Menendez, the senior Democrat on the 
Senate Foreign Relations panel.

He demanded a briefing "immediately" on the threat intelligence, any plans 
for war and the decision to order embassy staff out of Iraq.

"Congress has not authorized war with Iran... If (the administration) were 
contemplating military action with Iran, it must come to Congress to seek 
approval," he said.

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