Baghdad: “Stop the attacks on the US military bases in Iraq right now. Otherwise, the United States will retaliate against them to safeguard its interests,” US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper warned. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper issued this warning after holding talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi. Although the Secretary of Defence did not take any names, it is clear that the message was intended towards Iran and the Iran affiliated groups in Iraq.
In the last five weeks, there have been ten rocket attacks on the locations of the US diplomatic officials, soldiers and military bases. No casualties have been reported yet. Also, no organisation has accepted the responsibility for these attacks. But it is claimed that the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an Iran affiliated armed group, is responsible for these attacks.
In this scenario, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper held telephonic talks with Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and expressed concerns over the attacks. Esper appealed to Mahdi to make efforts to stop the attacks. Secretary of Defence Esper demanded, “The United States has always supported the Iraqi freedom, sovereignty and the people of Iraq. But the Iraqi leaders too should help in stopping the attacks on the US diplomatic officials, soldiers and the military bases.”
At the same time, US Secretary of Defence made a suggestive statement, “If the attacks continue, the United States will be forced to take steps in self-defence. It will be better if Iraq acts prior to the United States. Because if the United States takes the controls in its hands, it will not be in anyone’s interest.” This information was given by Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi while talking to the media. The Iraqi Prime Minister appealed that no party should take any unilateral action threatening the security, sovereignty and independence of Iraq.
Secretary of Defence Mark Esper avoided directly mentioning Iran at this time. But a senior Pentagon official warned Iran in clear words while talking to a news channel, “The Iranian leaders should remember that if Iran or its affiliate groups attack the interests of the United States or its allies, the United States will take decisive action against Iran.” A US official while talking to a military news channel informed that the rockets used in the attacks over the last one and a half month were more destructive.
Meanwhile, last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also had threatened Iran to be prepared for decisive action. Following the warning from Mike Pompeo, the warning given by Secretary of Defence Mark Esper to Iran and Iran affiliated groups has attracted attention.