U.S. Orders 'Nonemergency' Government Employees To Leave Iraq

US forces in Iraq and Syria on high alert for possible 'imminent threat'

"That does not mean we are rushing to a conflict".

"The Constitution of the United States is very clear", said Sanders.

Iran described the U.S. moves as "psychological warfare", and a British commander cast doubt on USA military concerns about threats to its roughly 5,000 soldiers in Iraq, who have been helping Iraqi security forces fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

On Tuesday, Spain ordered a naval frigate to leave the Gulf, in an effort to show that the country is not part of the U.S. military presence there.

"What we have heard so far has been shallow and superficial at best", Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, told ABC's Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer on ABC News Live.

The Pentagon has also made plans to move 120,000 troops to the region if Iran attacks USA forces or advances their nuclear weapons program, according to a report in The New York Times on Monday.

Traditional US allies such as Australia and Canada have remained quiet. Even Gulf Arab states that openly oppose Iran, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seem cautious this week.

"There are a lot of people in my shoes that are going to support standing up to Iran", he said, "but we need to understand what we're doing".

Iran's Foreign Ministry has called the tanker attacks "worrisome and dreadful" and called for an investigation.

The United States withdrew staff from its embassy in Iraq on Wednesday out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iran, with US sources saying they believe Tehran encouraged the attacks on the oil tankers.

In the US Congress, Democrats demanded to know why the Trump administration was boosting its Gulf presence and, according to media reports, considering war plans that would involve sending 120,000 US troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American assets. Only days later, two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian ship were damaged in apparent acts of sabotage in the Gulf.

"But this threat is serious and we want to reduce the risk of harm". "Neither we nor them (the US) seek war", he said.

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The US is the world's preeminent military power; it has been willing to swim against the tide of public opinion on foreign policy before.

Helicopters took off throughout the day from the vast USA embassy compound near the Tigris River in Baghdad, carrying non-emergency staff out, according to an Iraqi source and a diplomatic source inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

Oddly enough, while he was slamming the premise of war for political gain, Trump himself seemed to be seriously gunning for open conflict with Iran. In the former conflict, Britain ultimately sent 45,000 troops to aid the United States in the invasion of Iraq, and Australia and Poland sent smaller numbers, while other countries provided political support.

"I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon", he said, without elaboration.

"We fundamentally do not seek war with Iran", Pompeo said during a visit to Sochi, Russia, this week. Many more than you can count, and it's true that we are united in our desire to stop Iranian aggression.

The US has spent nearly two years trying to convince Europe to join a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, but European nations have generally distanced themselves from Trump's Iran policy.

The ayatollah may not expect war, but he apparently does not think renewed negotiations with the US over the Obama-era nuclear deal-from which Trump withdrew last year-are possible with the current administration.

Why have US-Iran tensions escalated?

Though Germany and the Netherlands said that they had suspended participation in a training mission for Iraqi troops, they cited general tension between the USA and Iran. But other than Netanyahu, these parties have kept quiet this week.

Saudi Arabia meanwhile said that drone attacks on two oil pumping stations by Yemen's Houthi rebel movement, which is supported by Iran, had forced it to temporarily shut the main East-West Pipeline.

The statement did not provide a reason for the evacuation.

"Comparisons to Iraq 2003 are simply wrong", said senior State Department officials.

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