International | The United States evacuates embassy in Baghdad over threats from Iran
by Mindy Belz
Posted 5/16/19, 12:35 pm
IRAQ: The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is one of the most fortified, removed American compounds in the world (I wrote about my 2014 visit there), but the U.S. State Department ordered a partial evacuation of it and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil due to “Iranian activity” that put U.S. facilities at “substantial risk,” according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The heightened alert over potential Iranian strikes inside Iraq has strained U.S. relations with Iraqi leaders and European allies. British army Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, deputy commander of the joint Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, challenged the Trump administration’s intelligence, and there are conflicting reports of U.S. oil companies and Western aid workers pulling out over the alert as well.
It is a fact that Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria want to target U.S. forces. The question is why their presence has been tolerated for so long. Stratfor offers a good, deeper look at what may be ahead.
OMAN: Increasing tensions also carry more questions than answers in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz, where Saudi oil tankers and facilities have come under attack. An officer aboard a commercial freighter in the highly trafficked area emailed this week:
“I am currently on watch on the bridge, and while it’s dark out [Wednesday at 4 a.m.] we just passed close by to a U.S. Navy convoy, which included a carrier, destroyers, and a frigate. They were moving at 20-plus knots toward the Strait of Hormuz to be closely positioned for any further conflict, no doubt. So there is a very active U.S. presence here, and my ship is currently speeding in the opposite direction.”
ISRAEL: The senior historian of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, responded to the comments of U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. While some Republicans mischaracterized her comments regarding the “calming effect” of knowing her Palestinian ancestors had helped pay for the Holocaust (by sacrificing their land to create the state of Israel), Tlaib and fellow Democrats have stood by her faulty history, and she stands by her call for a “one-state solution” that would cede control of Israel to Palestinians. In the full interview, Tlaib also seems to think Congress impeached President Richard Nixon.
VIETNAM: Funny, Vietnam doesn’t trust Chinese Huawei to build its 5G infrastructure the way the Brits and others do.
CHINA: The U.S.-China trade war, explained.
HONG KONG: At age 18, Joshua Wong became the face of the Umbrella Movement, protests calling for Chinese officials to allow Hong Kong to elect its own leaders, and at 23 he spoke to our WORLD Magazine reporter as he awaits an appeal of his prison sentence.
BRAZIL: Protesters are in the streets and classes suspended while President Jair Bolsonaro, in Texas, is defending budget cuts that would slice a third from subsidies to state-owned universities.
FRANCE: Parisians celebrated the Eiffel Tower’s 130th anniversary with a light show recalling its history.
I’M READING: They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate by James Verini, a so far excellent chronology due out in October.
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Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.