Pushing Back on Iraqi Militias: Weighing U.S. Options
Although halting the escalation of militia attacks on American personnel is crucial, simply evacuating the Baghdad embassy and downscaling the bilateral relationship would allow Iran to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
On September 20, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly warned the Iraqi government that unchecked militia attacks could spur the United States to shutter its embassy and launch powerful strikes on Iran-backed militia leaders.
Since then, Iraqi officials and even some militia figures have scrambled to placate Washington, with various armed groups publicly distancing themselves from attacks on diplomatic facilities.
At the same time, however, the warning shocked an embattled Iraqi government that had served up some powerful blows against Iranian proxies in recent weeks, including the September 17 arrest of suspected militia financier Bahaa Abdul-Hussein, who controls a multi-billion-dollar e-payment service.