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Pompeo to Iraq: Stand with US against Iran or move aside  

May 20, 2019 at 12:15 pm

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) and his wife Susan (R) are welcomed by US ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman (2nd-L) as they arrive in Baghdad, during a Middle East tour, on 9 January 2019. [ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraqi leaders that if they are not going to stand with the US against Iran, then they should stand aside, AP reported.

Pompeo’s message came last week as he met with Iraqi leaders to discuss the mounting tension between Washington and Tehran.

The news agency said the message was relayed to it by two Iraqi officials who refused to be named, pointing out that Pompeo’s visit to Baghdad came as intelligence had received information about Iranian threats to US interests in the Middle East.

“There are fears that Baghdad will get caught again in the conflict between Washington and Tehran after recovering from the effects of its war on the Islamic State,” the news site reported, in reference to Daesh.

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“The big question is how Iraqi leaders will deal with [their] national interests in a country where loyalty to external powers is widespread at the expense of their own nation,” Iraqi political analyst Watheq al-Hashimi said. “If the state cannot put these [Iranian-backed militias] under control, Iraq will become an arena for an Iranian-American armed conflict.”

Last week, Baghdad’s ambassador to Russia told reporters that Iraq will not allow the US to use its territory for military operations against Iran.

He said that Baghdad would use its position to act as a mediator and that his country “does not want a new devastating war in the region.” He added that he hoped “nothing will happen.”