The US government ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff from its Baghdad embassy Wednesday due to an "imminent" threat from Iranian-linked Iraqi militias, but President Donald Trump predicted that Iran would "soon" want to start talks. Today, over 15 years after the United States invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, the Islamic Republic is regarded as a main player in Iraq.
The Trump administration ordered the withdrawal of all non-emergency personnel from the US diplomatic mission to Iraq after the administration announced Iran or its proxies in the region were an escalating threat. "The threats were specific and against American personnel in Iraq".
Iran's allies in Iraq negatively reacted to Pompeo's visit, with Popular Moblization Units (PMU) leader Moeen al-Kadhimi saying at a press conference, "The Americans are in trouble now, especially considering that United States troops' bases are known in Iraq and the region and can be targeted easily". "We have exercised maximum restraints", he said during a visit in Japan.
Tensions have sharply escalated between arch-rivals Washington and Tehran since US President Donald Trump withdrew last May from the 2015 global Iran nuclear deal which removed sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear programme.
Maj Gen Chris Ghika, an Operation Inherent Resolve deputy commander, earlier said he had not seen an increased threat from Iranian proxies.
Trump blasted media reports about turmoil in the White House over a series of steps taken by the administration to up pressure on Iran, saying "there is no infighting whatsoever".
And in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday expressed concerns about "the continued escalation of tensions around this subject".
Major-General Chris Ghika, Britain's top military commander in the US-led mission against Islamic State, dismissed the threat from Iran after the USA claimed it was increasing.
But since the first United States warning on May 5, the only activity seen has been a still-mysterious "attack" Monday on tankers anchored off Fujairah, an Emirati port located at the strategically crucial entrance to the Gulf.
The Trump administration recently declined to renew waivers from USA sanctions to major importers of Iranian oil as part of an effort to force Teheran to negotiate on ceasing a range of activities, including its nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as supporting terrorists and militants across the region.
In spite of the military build-up near Iran, the New York Times has reported that any threat from Iran is small. A Foreign Office spokeswoman declined to immediately comment on the reports.
Pompeo told Russian officials in the Black Sea resort of Sochi that the United States "fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran".