State Dept. Planning to Cut Iraq Personnel By Almost 30 Percent – Report

Reduction reportedly won't interfere with Mission Iraq's core objectives

Image Credits: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images.

The US State Department is preparing to significantly reduce staffing levels at its embassy in Baghdad and other diplomatic centres in the Iraqi capital and Erbil, US broadcaster CNN reported on Wednesday, citing an official memo.

“The Department assesses the reduction of personnel will allow Mission Iraq to still achieve its core objectives, and conduct adequate monitoring and oversight of programmes. These functions will continue to be performed by personnel in Iraq and, in some cases, by personnel located at other posts,” the memo, sent by Bureau of Legislative Affairs Assistant Secretary Mary Elizabeth Taylor to committee Chairman Jim Risch, noted.

According to the broadcaster, the State Department plans to cut staffing levels by 28 percent in Iraq.

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The proposals outline that 114 fewer people will be based at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Fifteen staff would leave the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Centre, and eight members of staff would leave the Consulate General in Erbil, the broadcaster reported.

The cuts are due to take place by the end of May 2020.

Dissatisfaction has been growing within the United States administration with their Iraqi partners.

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On Monday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper held a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi to express concerns over recent attacks on US military forces stationed in Iraq.

In early December, a military base near Baghdad International Airport was shelled and six Iraqi soldiers were injured. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed attacks on Iran and its partners.

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