Citing Threats, U.S. Builds Case - and Military Force - for Confronting Iran by Tracy Wilkinson and Nabih Bulos – Los Angeles Times
The State Department ordered several hundred U.S. diplomatic personnel to leave Iraq on Wednesday, citing heightened threats from neighboring Iran amid a buildup of U.S. military forces in the volatile region and growing concerns of a potential conflict with Tehran.
The uptick in tensions came nearly two weeks after the White House warned of what it described as potential targeting of U.S. forces, allies and interests by Iranian security forces or their proxies. It provided no details and some military allies and senior members of Congress questioned the administration’s assessments.
So far this month, the Pentagon has sent the Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and Air Force B-52 bombers to the region and dusted off contingency war plans, the Treasury Department has increased sanctions on Iran’s economy, and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo made a sudden trip to Baghdad to consult with U.S. and Iraqi officials.
Few allies embraced the aggressive U.S. moves and several warned of an accidental clash in Iraq, where U.S. military forces and Iranian-backed militias operate in close proximity, or in the Persian Gulf, where Iranian and U.S. ships sometimes sail at close quarters…