Washington orders some US government employees to leave Iraq

US forces Iraq: Missiles moved closer to the US base, says Secretary of State - Daily Star

Bernie Sanders on Tuesday came out forcefully against the Trump administration angling the United States into another costly and unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East-this time against Iran-delivering an online address in which he warned that any military action without approval from Congress would be an "unconstitutional and illegal" breach of office. "That's Congress's job - and that's why I'm supporting this legislation to prevent a war with Iran".

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comments in a meeting with his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo as tensions rise in the Middle East, fuelling concern that the United States and Iran are heading for a conflict.

"What we have heard so far has been shallow and superficial at best", Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, told ABC's Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer on ABC News Live.

USA officials have not publicly provided any evidence to back up claims of an increased Iranian threat. "Neither we nor [the U.S.] seek war".

USA military officials have said there is an elevated threat level facing US troops deployed in Iraq and Syria, primarily emanating from Iranian-controlled Shiite militias. Even Gulf Arab states that openly oppose Iran, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seem cautious this week.

Earlier Wednesday, the US State Department ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil, citing a non-specific threat from "terrorist and insurgent groups" in Iraq that included "anti-US sectarian militias".

On Monday, a United States official said that Iran was a leading candidate for the tanker sabotage, but the United States did not have conclusive proof. "Taking us into a war without Congressional authorization would be unconstitutional and illegal". It cited an anonymous official as saying that Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, had travelled to Tehran in recent days to speak with his Iranian counterpart, and that the USA was aware of the trip in advance.

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The US has spent nearly two years trying to convince Europe to join a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, but European nations have generally distanced themselves from Trump's Iran policy.

Many have spoken in favour of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, reached between the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany during the Obama Administration, even after Trump pulled the US out of the deal past year and imposed sanctions on Iran.

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said a year ago that Tehran would block exports through the waterway if countries heeded US calls to stop buying Iranian oil. But other than Netanyahu, these parties have kept quiet this week.

Saudi security chiefs said armed drones attacked two oil pumping stations in the kingdom but did not disrupt output or exports.

However, US President Donald Trump denied a New York Times report that US officials were discussing a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter any attack or nuclear weapons acceleration by Iran.

Late Wednesday, Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of foreign affairs, said the Saudi-led coalition would "retaliate hard" for attacks on civilian targets, without elaborating.

Tehran has called the US military presence "a target" rather than a threat, and said it would not allow its oil exports to be halted. Fujairah port is a terminal of the crude pipeline from Abu Dhabi's Habshan oilfields.

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