Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, in turn, warned Iraqis over the weekend that the closure of the embassy would lead to an economic collapse in Iraq.
He also moved to isolate the militias politically, but he shows little appetite for an all-out confrontation that would trigger intense fighting in many urban centers. Instead, he ordered a shake-up in the Iraqi security force protecting the area around the embassy, and the Interior Ministry claimed arrests of persons involved in rocket attacks.
Washington has also given Baghdad only 60 days to show progress in cutting energy imports from Iran or it will impose sanctions.
Al-Kadhimi has repeatedly stated Iraq does not want to be caught in the middle of the U.S.-Iran struggle.
Notably, marchers in Baghdad last week protesting government shortcomings also chanted that both Iran and the U.S. should leave Iraq alone.
The Americans hint that they could move diplomatic and military assistance missions from Baghdad to more distant Iraqi locales, including Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Americans can’t entirely withdraw from Iraq since Erbil is a vital logistics base for U.S. operations in eastern Syria.
The militias sent another message on Oct. 1 by launching rockets that landed near the Erbil airport.
They also again ambushed a U.S. supply convoy coming up from Kuwait. Early on Oct. 5 more rockets landed near the Baghdad airport, where U.S. military personnel are located, and also near the U.S. embassy.
A complete halt to attacks against American interests is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Closing the U.S. embassy in Baghdad would mark a political defeat for Washington, and the question is whether the Iraqis can restrain the militias enough to satisfy the Trump administration.
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