14:30 GMT29 November 2020
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    The US State Department is set to close down its diplomatic presence in Basra, Iraq, and evacuate personnel stationed there amid violent protests, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday afternoon. The State Department confirmed that the consulate was placed "on ordered departure" shortly after the news broke.

    Southern Iraqi cities have seen protests over corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services in recent weeks, Sputnik News has reported, resulting in 14 fatalities and hundreds more wounded among police and protesters alike. US is shutting its consulate in Basra after weeks of protests and unrest in the city pic.twitter.com/JA82KtGwPC

    Iraqi analyst Qai al-Muatasem explained in an July interview with Sputnik that "the province of Basra gives the Iraqi government more than 95 percent of the oil extracted on its territory. At the same time, people are suffering from the lack of elementary things, for example, drinking water and electricity…The Iraqi people have found themselves amid a crisis."   

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the closure came after "increasing and specific" threats made against American infrastructure in Iraq by Iran, including indirect fire at the consulate. He also said he'd warned the government of Iran that they will be held responsible for any harm that comes to US personnel or facilities from what he called Iran's proxy forces. 


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