In a late Wednesday call, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his condemnation of Tuesday’s attack on the US Embassy in Iraq, as well as the latter’s “unwavering commitment” to counter Iran’s “malign” influence in the region, according to a statement by US Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
“The Secretary and Prime Minister reaffirmed the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel”, the statement reads.
The call was confirmed by Pompeo on his Twitter account.
The secretary of state also earlier asserted that he spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi about providing protection for US personnel in Baghdad from “Iran-backed attackers”.
Spoke today with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Mahdi, who agreed that #Iraq would continue to uphold its responsibility to keep U.S. personnel secure and would move the Iran-backed attackers away from @USEmbBaghdad. We’ll continue cooperation to hold #Iran and its proxies responsible.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 1, 2020
Pompeo’s comments come after a statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemning the “attack” on the US Embassy and accusing the Islamic Republic of coordinating the assault, while calling upon the international community to stand against “the crimes of the murderous regime in Tehran”.
“Iran made a grave mistake by attempting to harm American diplomats in Iraq”, Katz said on his Twitter account.
'What Happened in Iraq Will Have Its Own Consequences for US Presence in the Country' - Prof
Abas Aslani, a senior research fellow at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran, says that due to the fact that the US has blamed Iran for the attack on the embassy, it is very likely that the recent developments would escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran.
He, however, doesn't think that the escalation will reach to the level of a military confrontation between the two countries, "for neither Iran wants a war", nor it is "in the interests of the US in the region".
"The United States operation in Iraq to kill 25 Iraqis was illegal, as well as violated the Iraqi sovereignty. Even if one assumes that Americans wanted to take revenge, the number of casualties were disproportionate. The US behavior caused a backlash and brought the first sit-in across U.S. embassy in Baghdad as of 2003 when Americans invaded Iraq. As US president is approaching reelection in the upcoming election at home, he needs to make a hero of himself in facing challenges abroad, specifically when he juxtaposes the events that once happened at Obama era in Benghazi and now during his tenure in Baghdad. But this has a different impact in Iraqi society. [...] What happened recently in Iraq has put the US at the public focus in the country and this will have its own consequences for American presence in Iraq.... ", Aslani opines.
On 31 December, the US Embassy in Baghdad was encircled and partly vandalised by a number of Iraqi protesters, who reportedly destroyed a reception area and sprayed pro-Iran graffiti on the walls. No injuries were reported on either side.
The protest erupted in response to US strikes against the Iraqi Shia Kata’ib Hezbollah militia that Washington believes is backed by Iran.
Following the incident, US President Donald Trump warned that Tehran would pay “a very big price”.
“This is not a Warning, it is a Threat”, the US president wrote on 1 January while wishing his followers a “Happy New Year!”
....Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
Iran strongly dismissed the allegations about Tehran orchestrating the assault on the US Embassy, with Khamenei insisting that if the Islamic Republic decides to oppose or fight against a country this will be done “unequivocally”.