As tensions with Iran have been on a steady rise in recent weeks, the Trump administration has ordered all non-essential American personnel to leave Iraq.
According to reports, the State Department has delivered instructions to all non-emergency personnel at the U.S. Embassy and consulate in Iraq to leave the country, as security prospects in the region continue to deteriorate. The announcement by the State Department came close to a similar one from German and Dutch authorities. Both countries announced that military training operations in the region would be halted due to increased risk to their personnel.
Over the past two weeks alone, several important events have signaled things are going from bad to worse in dealing with the Islamic Republic. Earlier this month, Iran began to openly threaten pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal engineered by the Obama administration. Parts of the deal have reportedly already been abandoned by the Ayatollahs. This in turn solicited a strong reaction from other Western signatories to the deal in Europe, some of whom have allegedly threatened to re-impose sanctions if Iran rescinds. Added to this saber-rattling was the statement of General Hossein Salami, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, that his country was on the “cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy” and was prepared for any confrontation with the U.S.
Despite all of this, the trump administration has been admittedly clear that it does not seek a direct confrontation with Iran, as State Secretary Mike Pompeo said explicitly in a recent press conference in Russia. The recent increase in American troops to the region that Iran has pointed to have been —as explained by U.S. officials— in order to finish off ISIS, not to prepare for a fight with Tehran.
The main cause for the recent spike in tensions with Iran has not been due to any real geopolitical change but to an economic one. Under the weight of increased sanctions, Iran is desperate. This is why it is making threats of leaving the nuclear deal and demanding negotiation with the West. As a result, an image is being painted of a region on the brink.