Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has evacuated diplomats from the U.S. consulate in Basra after what he called “increasing and specific threats and incitement to attack” U.S. personnel in Iraq emanating from Iran.
Basra has been the scene of violent protests this month, including rocket attacks on the consulate that occurred as recently as today. While the Basra consulate is shuttered, a statement from Pompeo indicated that the risk to U.S. diplomats exists in Baghdad as well, where he said forces loyal to Iran had launched indirect fire attacks.
He said any harm to U.S. personnel will lead to Iran being held “directly responsible,” and conveyed that message through the Iraqi government, over which Iranian influence is growing. Iran’s escalating threats in Iraq cap a week that has seen the Trump administration launch a diplomatic broadside against Tehran in the United Nations and insist that 2,000 U.S. troops will remain in Syria until Iran withdraws its own.
A blanket preliminary blaming of Iran for anything that happens to US personnel in Iraq, 40 days out from midterm elections, is a recipe for making the Kavanaugh debacle and the Mueller probe vanish off the front page for weeks.
This definitely feels like a "Wag the Dog" scenario, coming just hours after Israel once again accused Iran of having a secret WMD stockpile.
Clandestine nuclear dumping. Concealing atomic material near a rug-cleaning plant. Lying to international partners.
Accusing Iran of all of the above, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu fired a new salvo Thursday in his campaign to prove that Tehran can’t be trusted and poses a massive threat to international security.
In response, Iran shrugged.
Netanyahu’s presentation at the U.N. General Assembly — brandishing props and exhibiting his trademark showmanship — marked the latest in a run of revelations or accusations about Iran’s nuclear program, as he ratchets up his campaign against the 2015 global accord that’s meant to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
He challenged U.N. nuclear inspectors to examine a new “secret atomic warehouse” near Tehran — but it’s unclear whether the announcement sheds new light on what inspectors already knew, or proves that Iran is violating the 2015 deal.
The warehouse announcement showcased Netanyahu’s unyielding views on Iran and anger at Europeans he accuses of appeasing Israel’s enemies.
Showing a map and photo of the site on oversize boards, he said Iran concealed “massive amounts of equipment and material” in a facility near a rug-cleaning plant in the Turquzabad district. He said Iranian officials cleared out some radioactive material in recent weeks and secretly released it around Tehran.
“You have to ask yourself a question: Why did Iran keep a secret atomic archive and a secret atomic warehouse?” he asked. “What Iran hides, Israel will find.”
Both Trump and Netanyahu are in deep political trouble, both of them mired in scandal that could lead to impeachment. Both of them now pushing a need for potentially immediate military action against Tehran.
This is raising all sorts of alarm bells taken together. Pretending that Trump would never try this is insane. Democrats need to be raising holy hell over this now that our intelligence services are suddenly believable again to the Trump regime.
Stay tuned. Things just got very, very serious.