The US pulled non-essential government personnel from Iraq this week as it warned of “credible threats” from Iran-backed militia groups. The 15 May announcement comes amid rising regional tensions as the US has tightened sanctions on Iran (MEES, 26 April) and increased its military presence in the region.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also made an unannounced visit to Iraq on 7 May, where he warned of the threat posed by Iran, and called on Iraq to reduce ties with its neighbor. That’s easier said than done given that some of Iraq’s strongest political groupings have close ties to Iran, which also provides assistance to militia groups which were at the forefront of the fight against the Islamic State. Moreover, Iraq buys electricity and gas for electricity generation. Iraq’s stability depends on the continuation of these supplies (MEES, 26 April). (CONTINUED - 190 WORDS)