Middle East/North Africa

Top Foreign Relations Democrat calls for explanation of security failure at US Embassy in Iraq

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Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is calling for the Trump administration to give Congress an explanation for the security failure at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after protesters stormed it on Tuesday. 

Menendez condemned the attack in a statement in which he said that the U.S. is prioritizing ensuring American diplomats and personnel are safe. He also requested Iraq assist in protecting the U.S. personnel in the region. 

“I call on all Iraqis, including the government and security forces, to continue our partnership with American security forces and diplomatic personnel to restore security and order,” he wrote.

Protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in the Iraqi capital after American forces launched strikes over the weekend on Iranian-backed militia in the country and in Syria, killing at least 25 people. 

Those strikes were retribution for a Friday missile attack on an Iraqi base that killed a U.S. contractor and that Washington has blamed on the militia group Kataib Hezbollah, which has denied the allegations. 

Menendez is asking the administration to send to Congress a current security posture at the embassy and “elsewhere in the region,” plans for potential evacuations of the embassy and other personnel, plans to ensure the safety of locally employed staff, and threat indicators from before the attack and any alterations to security taken in response to them. 

“While the Trump Administration has touted its maximum pressure campaign against Iran, the results so far have been more threats against international commerce, emboldened and more violent proxy attacks across the Middle East, and now, the death of an American citizen in Iraq,” he said.

The embassy protests have forced U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers to a fortified safe room.

President Trump pointed the finger at Iran for sparking Tuesday’s demonstrations.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible,” Trump tweeted. “In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

Tags airstrikes Baghdad Bob Menendez Donald Trump embassy Iran Iraq protesters U.S. embassy protest

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