Middle East Monitor / January 2, 2020
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has thanked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his country’s support on efforts to counter Iranian influence following the attack on the US Embassy in Iraq.
After Pompeo spoke to Netanyahu last night, the State Department released a statement saying: “Secretary Pompeo thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for Israel’s unwavering commitment to countering Iran’s malign regional influence and its condemnation of the December 31 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad.” It added: “The Secretary and Prime Minister reaffirmed the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel.”
Pompeo’s expression of gratitude to Netanyahu comes after Israel yesterday condemned the attack by pro-Iran protestors and groups on the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, as well as accusing Iran of ordering it.
The attack and siege on the embassy on Tuesday was in retaliation for US air strikes that killed 25 Iran-backed Shia militia fighters over the weekend.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement that “Iran made a grave mistake by attempting to harm American diplomats in Iraq…We call on the international community to stand determinedly against the crimes of the murderous regime in Tehran.”
The statement was made only a few hours after the demonstrators left the embassy, under the orders of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) – the Hashed Al-Shaabi. Thousands of Iraqi supporters of the largely Iranian-trained PMF had encircled and vandalised the embassy compound Tuesday, outraged by the US air strikes.
Pompeo had intended to travel to Ukraine today, before moving onto Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus, but was forced to delay the trip “to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” according to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus yesterday.