Amid tensions between US and Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday warned Tehran of a “decisive” response if Washington’s interests are harmed in Iraq. This came after a series of rocket attacks on US bases. “We must... use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies or our interests will be answered with a decisive US response,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbours and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region,” he said.
Pompeo, who has repeatedly warned Tehran, pinned the blame for the latest attacks squarely on “Iran’s proxies”.
President Donald Trump’s administration, which is close to Iran’s adversaries Saudi Arabia and Israel, has been trying to counter Tehran’s influence around the region, including through sanctions aimed at blocking all its oil exports.
Iran is in the grip of an economic crisis. The US re-imposed sanctions that block Iran from selling its crude oil abroad.
Iran’s economic woes in part fuelled the anger seen in widespread protests last month that Iranian security forces violently put down. Amnesty International says the unrest killed over 200 people. Iran has not given any nationwide death toll so far.
Iran’s economy has primarily been battered since the country has been locked in a standoff with the United States and its Gulf Arab allies after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal that gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran’s defence ministry.