United Kingdom raises threat level for British forces in Iraq and Gulf

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said late Tuesday that neither Iran nor the US wanted a war

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said late Tuesday that neither Iran nor the US wanted a war

Yesterday all "nonemergency USA government employees" at both the United States embassy in the Iraqi capital and the US consulate in Erbil were ordered to leave Iraq. Today, over 15 years after the United States invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, the Islamic Republic is regarded as a main player in Iraq.

This ran counter to an assessment by a senior British general in the US-led mission to defeat ISIS who suggested there was no increased threat from Iranian proxies.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, asserted that the U.S. wants a "deterrent" there in case Iran wants to "come after an American interest". "This threat stream, let me tell you, is real", he added, comparing it to the situation in 2011 in Iraq when US installations were under direct attack.

Iran's allies in Iraq negatively reacted to Pompeo's visit, with Popular Moblization Units (PMU) leader Moeen al-Kadhimi saying at a press conference, "The Americans are in trouble now, especially considering that United States troops' bases are known in Iraq and the region and can be targeted easily".

US President Donald Trump has expressed a similar sentiment recently when he told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, he does not want to go to war with Iran, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing unidentified administration officials.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin "still regards this nuclear agreement as the basis for Iran not having any nuclear weapons in the future, and we regard this as existential for our security".

"So far we notice the continued escalation of tensions around this subject", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, a day after Pompeo met with President Vladimir Putin.

Some observers speculate that Tehran is seeking to retaliate over Washington's decision in April to put Iran's Revolutionary Guards on a terror blacklist - a move created to stymie their activities across the Middle East. Major General Christopher Ghika was speaking via video-link from Baghdad during a Pentagon news conference. "We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in".

But Germany and the Netherlands said Wednesday that they were suspending training of soldiers in Iraq due to a "generally heightened" state of alert. One day later, Pompeo told CNBC that, in the event that Iran chose to target U.S. interests, "we are prepared to respond in an appropriate way".

The claim that hostile militia forces are positioning the rockets near bases housing American troops, provides insight into the threats the USA faces in the Middle East in the wake of rising tensions between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime.

Is the USA preparing for war?