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US withdrawal from Iraq would be 'catastrophic': PM Kadhimi

USA-IRAQ-DIPLOMACY
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has warned a US withdrawal from Iraq would be " catastrophic for Iraq," after reports that the US was considering closing its embassy in Baghdad.

During the last two months over 40 attacks have taken place targeting not only the US embassy and military bases, but also the supply convoys of Iraqi contractors for Washington and its allies.

As a result, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to close the American embassy in Baghdad within weeks if Iraq failed to curb Iranian-backed militias from attacking US assets.

Mr Al Kadhimi said Iraq had not received any such warning, and "will not accept any warnings from any country."

“We felt that the Americans were annoyed at the number of attacks that have targeted their diplomatic missions in Iraq and this is their right,” he said.

“There are sides who are attempting to sabotage Iraq’s relationship with the world, taking the country towards the unknown,” Mr Al Kadhimi told state news channel Al Ikhbaria.

In recent months, rockets have repeatedly been propelled across the Tigris in attacks on the heavily fortified US and foreign diplomatic compound. But Mr Al Kadhimi said Iraq has shown its seriousness to the US about stopping the attacks and arresting the perpetrators.

“The consequences of a US withdrawal, if it would happen, would be catastrophic for Iraq, especially as it would result in an economic crisis that has never been seen before,” he said.

Washington blames Iran-backed militias for firing rockets at its embassy on a near-weekly basis for months, and for shelling Iraqi bases housing international troops, including many of the 5,000 US soldiers.

A rocket landed near Baghdad airport last week, killing three civilians and wounding two, security officials said.

The US is a country that bases its relations on its interests, said Mr Al Kadhimi, adding that Iraq must also ensure its interests are protected in all fields.

"We are not ashamed of any relationship that preserves the dignity of Iraq and the Iraqis,” he said.

Last week populist cleric Muqtada Al Sadr made a call to form a joint committee to look at ways of halting attacks by militias on diplomatic outposts was welcomed by politicians in the country.

Mr Al Sadr, whose Mahdi Army once fought pitched battles against US troops in Iraq, said that “given the seriousness of the security situation that threatens the country's present and future… we find it is an urgent interest to form a committee of security, military and parliamentary nature.”

He said that the aim must be to halt attacks on diplomats as it “harms Iraq's reputation in international forums.”

Mr Al Kadhimi’s remarks came as Iraqi Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, warned his American counterpart Mike Pompeo that a US pullout would not be in the interest of the Iraqi people.

“The government has taken a number of measures to halt attacks on the Green Zone and Baghdad airport,” he said, adding that there will be “positive results” seen in the near future.

Mr Pompeo said that relations between the two sides are vital for the future of both nations



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