Commenting on U.S. diplomatic staffing in Iraq, a senior U.S. official asserted that “the adjustments we’re making largely are based on the high level of security threats from individuals like Qasem Soleimani. We want to make sure that we’ve got the smallest target offered to them as possible, but one that – a team that is still capable of getting the mission done”. “That mission”, the official added, “is very much protecting and defending and trying to build Iraqi sovereignty so that people like Soleimani don’t have the run of the town that they currently have”. Asked whether “this move will send a wrong signal”, the official reiterated that “the protesters are telling us something very clearly… They don’t want foreign interference in their selection of their leadership and how their government runs. They want a positive partnership from us, and that’s what we’re offering”. Responding to a question on “who’s targeting the protesters”, the official said: “there’s a third – shadowy third party… It’s the Iranians… And it’s their proxies in Iraq”.
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