, 7 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
The State Department has no higher responsibility than to protect its people overseas. Thus, it may well make sense to reduce some personnel in Iraq if threat reporting indicates an imminent warning. I would never second guess such a decision given this paramount responsibility.
Until this morning, however, I am not aware of an "ordered departure" EVER being issued for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or Consulate in Erbil. Even when ISIS was bearing down on Baghdad in 2014, the U.S. did not trigger ordered departure in light of its serious repercussions.
The statement issued at that time emphasized full U.S. support for Iraq and its people, ongoing embassy operations, and shifting personnel as it added military and reduced civilian capacity at the embassy. That statement is here: 2009-2017.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/20…
This process in 2014 was also fully coordinated with U.S. allies and partners. Most information was shared as appropriate (and with our closest allies like UK nothing was withheld). They knew what we knew in order to inform their own national decisions during a difficult period.
An "ordered departure" (by definition a "mandatory evacuation procedure") can induces great uncertainty in the host nation and risk a broader panic, thereby make tense situations even worse. There are often other ways to reduce staff and protect personnel as necessary.
This situation is also peculiar as the closest members of our coalition like UK for whatever reason seem to have a different view of the threat reporting and others like Germany say they have not been briefed at all. That's odd, as these are US allies in Iraq under US leadership.
In sum: this is the first ordered departure for Baghdad/Erbil and that alone is significant with likely second and third order effects in Iraq and the region. The big question now is where this leads. Trump again said he expects Iran to call him. They won't. So then what?
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