US on the Brink of War With Iran, Evacuates Embassy in Neighbouring Iraq

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Recent events indicate that the United States is on the brink of war with Iran.

The U.S. on Wednesday ordered all nonessential government staff to leave Iraq while Germany and the Netherlands both suspended their military assistance programs in the country in the latest sign of tensions sweeping the Persian Gulf region over still-unspecified threats that the Trump administration says are linked to Iran.

A travel advisory was posted on the embassy’s website Sunday urging American citizens not to travel to Iraq and to remain vigilant. The department said in light of the heightened tensions, non-emergency staff at both the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil would be evacuated, adding that the government’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens there is “extremely limited.”

The U.S. government has alluded to risks of an attack by the Islamic Republic or its proxies in the region, and has been building up military assets in the region, sparking off fears that war is imminent. The U.S. in recent days has ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf region, plus four B-52 bombers.

According to the New York Times, the intelligence that caused the White House to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran came from photographs of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf that were put on board by Iranian paramilitary forces, three American officials said.

Overhead imagery showed fully assembled missiles, stoking fears that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would fire them at United States naval ships. Additional pieces of intelligence picked up threats against commercial shipping and potential attacks by Arab militias with Iran ties on American troops in Iraq.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats, criticized the administration’s lack of transparency on the intelligence, according to a Democratic aide. Ms. Pelosi also said that the administration must consult Congress before taking any action.

Tensions with Tehran have heightened in recent weeks, with the U.S. adding additional sanctions targeting Iran in the wake of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement that his nation would end its compliance with portions of a 2015 nuclear agreement unless the deal’s other signatories renegotiate. The U.S., which helped negotiate the deal under President Barack Obama, withdrew from it last year under President Donald Trump.

Friction between the U.S. and Iran also increased earlier this year with the Trump administration’s decision to identify the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military, as a terrorist organization.

The movement of diplomatic personnel is often done in times of conflict, but what is driving the decisions from the White House remains unclear. A high-ranking British general said there was no new threat from Iran or its regional proxies, something immediately rebutted by the U.S. military’s Central Command, which said its troops were on high alert, without elaborating.

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