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U.S. BLAMES IRAN FOR ATTACKS IN IRAQ, BUT BOTH NATIONS HAVE A HISTORY OF TARGETING THE OTHER’S DIPLOMATS

 

The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for recent attacks near Washington’s diplomatic presence in Iraq, where the two powers have competed for influence in the latest venue of a decades-long feud sparked by an embassy hostage crisis.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that “Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq” and was “to blame for the attacks against our mission in Basra and our embassy in Baghdad,” adding that his department’s “intelligence in this regard is solid.” Iran has the support of a number of semi-official Shiite Muslim militias across Iraq, and Pompeo cited “repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias” against the two U.S. sites in a Friday statement announcing the closure of the consulate general in the southern city of Basra.

Iran, whose own consulate general in Basra was burned down last month, has rejected these charges. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said Saturday that “the ridiculous justification [provided by Americans] for the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Basra, which came after weeks of propaganda and false allegations against Iran and the Iraqi forces, is a suspicious move aimed at evading responsibility and pinning the blame on others responsibility and pinning the blame on others”

As unrest once again grips Iraq, the ripples of a long-standing dispute between the U.S. and Iran has again highlighted a history of both countries targeting one another’s diplomats.

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Iranian students climb over the wall of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, November 4, 1979. The incident set off the 444-day Iranian Hostage Crisis and effectively severed ties between Washington and Tehran. ISLAMIC REPUBLIC NEWS AGENCY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES.

Poisoned relations between the U.S. and Iran began in 1979. Prior to that, Iran was under the rule of the pro-West Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the U.S. stepped in to protect British oil interests when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh challenged the monarch’s absolute power and tried to nationalize the energy sector. With Mossadegh deposed and imprisoned in a 1953 CIA-sponsored coup, Pahlavi went on to rule for another quarter of a century before he himself was forced to flee the Islamic Revolution, which brought the current revolutionary Shiite Muslim government into power.

Upset over Western meddling in Iranian affairs and demanding that an ill Pahlavi be extradited to face justice at home, supporters of the new clerical administration overran the U.S. Embassy and held 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage. A U.S. Army attempt to rescue the detainees by force ended in failure when a helicopter crashed into a transport aircraft, killing eight soldiers. An Iranian civilian was also killed when U.S. forces bombed the truck he was riding in.

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The hostages were ultimately released on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 following extensive negotiations. Although the U.S. would go on to secretly sell arms to Iran while also supporting Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, relations between Washington and Tehran were effectively squashed. Their relationship further deteriorated with growing Iranian support for foreign Shiite Muslim movements such as the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both of whom have been blamed for the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut—an attack that killed up to 63 people, including 17 U.S. officials and soldiers.

The U.S. officially embargoed Iranian trade in 1995 and these sanctions expanded as Iran embarked on a nuclear program, which Tehran always maintained was solely for peaceful purposes. Though Iran was a bitter opponent of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, it also backed Shiite Muslim insurgents targeting U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion that toppled him as it expanded ties with the new majority-Shiite Muslim administration in Baghdad. In January 2007, the U.S. raided the Iranian Liaison Office in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region, accusing five staff members of being agents of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and detaining them.

The local Kurdish government, which had ties to both the U.S. and Iran, vouched for the individuals and prevented the U.S. from detaining other individuals at Erbil’s airport. The five liaison office employees were ultimately released two and a half years later in 2009 as part of the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which sought to establish a framework for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq.

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A security personnel guards the entrance of the Iranian consulate in Erbil, northern Iraq, November 6, 2007. Iran opened two missions in neighboring Iraq that year, one in the same building that the U.S. military raided earlier that January.SAFIN HAMED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran remained largely frozen until President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani began negotiations to lift international sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to considerably restrict its nuclear activities. A multinational accord endorsed by both parties, along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K., was announced in June 2015.

President Donald Trump, however, has accused Iran of using unfrozen funds to further destabilize the region via support for paramilitary movements and the development of ballistic missiles. Capitalizing on conservative outrage toward the nuclear deal, he demanded that the terms be renegotiated, something that Iran has refused to consider. Even as both the U.S. and Iran devoted assets toward battling the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), relations again declined rapidly and Trump announced that he would leave the nuclear agreement in May.

The Trump administration has continued to press the international community to isolate Iran, even without the support of European allies and major powers China and Russia. The U.S. has increasingly aligned its position with that of longtime Iranian foes Israel and Saudi Arabia, which itself severed ties with the Islamic Republic after protestors responded to the kingdom’s execution of an influential Shiite Muslim cleric by torching Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran in early 2016.

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US Evacuates Diplomats and Closes Consulate in Basra, Iraq.

This Story was originally Reported onSept. 29

(UPI) — The U.S. government has closed a U.S. consulate in Iraq temporarily and evacuated diplomats over security risks from Iran, administration officials said.

The U.S. consulate in the southern Iraq city of Basra was shut down Friday hours after a rocket attack in the area blamed on Iranian-backed militias.

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Iraqis chanted slogans and carried banners during a demonstration in front of the headquarters of Basra governorate in Basra, Iraq, last month. Amid the escalating tensions, the U.S. consulate in Basra was closed down Friday. File Photo by Haider al-Assadee/EPA-EFE

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo ordered the evacuation of diplomats from the consulate, the U.S. U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Iraq announced in a statement.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will continue providing consular service in the area, the statement said.

The southern part of Iraq has faced violent protests against government corruption and lack of basic services since June with arson attacks of several government buildings earlier this month.

“We remain strongly committed to supporting Iraqis in the southern provinces and throughout the country,” U.S. Department of State Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Hours before Pompeo’s decision to close the consulate, rockets or mortars landed near the building, an official said.

The U.S. consulate has faced credible threats from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal.

On Friday, a senior Iran military leader warned the United States against crossing Iran’s “red lines.”

Brigadier General Hossein Salami said the perpetrators of a terrorist attack on a military parade Saturday in southwest Iran that killed at least 29 people were backed by regional elements including the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo denies that the United States had anything to do with the military parade attack.

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Terrorists attack Iran’s embassy in Paris: Report

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep – Sept 15, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday that Kurdish activists attacked its embassy in Paris and it accused French police of arriving late on the scene.

Paris police confirmed officers had responded to an incident at the embassy on Friday afternoon, but declined to comment on the speed of their response.

Fars news agency reported that about 15 Kurdish activists burned the Iranian flag in front of the embassy during the incident and broke some windows with stones.

They also threw fire extinguishers and computers at the gate

but did not manage to enter the premises, Fars said.

“The French government should take all necessary measures to protect Iranian diplomatic missions in that country,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, the French police did not arrive as expected on the scene on time, although the assailants were members of a terrorist organization,” he said.

Qasemi said some of the attackers were arrested.

Paris police told Reuters that officers had detained a dozen individuals outside the embassy but that they were released when the embassy said it would not seek charges against them.

“A security detail was put in place with the embassy’s full agreement,” Paris police added.

However, Qasemi said Iran has asked France to put on trial and punish the assailants, and to inform the Iranian government of the verdicts.

Tehran has accused France of supporting opposition groups which seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and are classified by Tehran as terrorist organizations. France has rejected Iranian accusations.

Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles at the headquarters in northern Iraq of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community.

Iranian media said at least 11 people were killed.

France has already told its diplomats and foreign ministry officials to postpone indefinitely all non-essential travel to Iran, citing a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France.

France is also investigating a foiled plot to bomb a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group near Paris that was attended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani on June 30.

An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany in connection with that plot.

Any hardening of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran. France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump pulled out of in May.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-france-kurds/iran-accuses-french-police-of-slow-reaction-to-attack-on-paris-embassy-idUSKCN1LV0BD

Gunmen Attack Government building in Erbil

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 24 July 2018 

Three gunmen shot their way into the main regional government building in the city of Irbil in northern Iraq on Monday morning before all three were killed by security forces.

iraq erbil

One employee was killed and four security force members were injured during a shootout with the militants, who had taken control of the third floor of the governorate building in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

 

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, although Kurdish security officials said the attack bore the hallmarks of the militant “Islamic State” (IS) group.

“We believe that the attackers are from Islamic State because of the tactics they used in breaking into the building from the main gate. Two gunmen used pistols to shoot at the guards,” a security official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Irbil, which typically enjoys good security, was the site of a major attack on the US Consulate in 2015. The IS-claimed attack killed three people and wounded five others.

The Iraqi government declared victory over IS in December, although the militant group still holds pockets of territory and continues to carry out attacks.

The Iraqi Kurdish forces known as peshmerga were key in the defeat of IS after the group launched an offensive in 2014, seizing nearly a third of the country.

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https://www.dw.com/en/iraq-gunmen-attack-governorate-building-in-irbil/a-44785804

 

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