Mike Pompeo unannounced trip to Baghdad comes after Iran threat
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a brief, unannounced trip to Baghdad on Tuesday and huddled with Iraqi officials amid reports of growing threats from neighboring Iran.
After scrapping a planned meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Pompeo sat down with the Iraqi president, prime minister, foreign minister, and other leaders.
The unexpected visit came just two days after the White House announced it would send an American aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Middle East to counter new provocations from Iran.
Administration officials have been mum on the specifics of those threats but have cited “credible” intelligence that Iranian-backed militias inside Iraq were actively targeting U.S. forces. There are roughly 5,000 American troops stationed in Iraq.
“We wanted to let them know about the increased threat stream that we had seen and give them a little bit more background on that so they could ensure that they were doing all they could to provide protection for our team,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters after the meeting with his Iraqi counterparts. “They understood too it’s important for their country. We don’t want anyone interfering in their country, certainly not by attacking another nation inside of Iraq and there was complete agreement.”
The threat of an Iranian attack adds to an already tense situation between Washington and Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday will deliver a major speech in which he’s expected to announce new counteractions against the U.S., which could include restarting key parts of the country’s nuclear weapons program.
The speech falls on the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s move to pull the U.S. out of a multilateral deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program.