Photo Credit: DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel, U.S. Air Force
US Navy F-18E Super Hornet aircraft fly over northern Iraq

The U.S. State Department has ordered non-essential government personnel to immediately evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and leave Iraq. The security alert included staff at the U.S. Consulate in Erbil in Kurdistan to the north.

Germany and the Netherlands have both decided to suspend their military training of Iraqi soldiers due to the security threat stemming from tensions in the region between the U.S. and Iran, “until further orders.”

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German’s government is warning of a military escalation. “Obviously, we are watching the increasing tensions in the region with big concern and welcome any measure that is aimed at a peaceful solution,” said Ulrike Demmer, spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. There are approximately 160 German soldiers in Iraq as part of the international force battling the Islamic State terrorist group.

“Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended,” the security alert said. “The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq,” the alert further warned, advising Americans to “depart Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible.”

Other recommended actions to take included avoiding U.S. facilities within Iraq, and monitoring local media for updates. Americans were urged to “review personal security plans, remain aware of surroundings, and review the complete Travel Advisory for Iraq” – which bluntly stated, “Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict. U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping.”

Those who decide to travel to Iraq anyway are urged to “draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney,” as well as suggestions for making other end-of-life arrangements.

The U.S. military has put its forces in Iraq on high alert amid the escalating tensions with Iran.

The move comes one week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s unannounced visit to the country for meetings to discuss the rising threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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