Trump’s Top Iran Official: Attack on Baghdad Embassy ‘Orchestrated by Iranian Regime’

January 2, 2020 Updated: January 2, 2020
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President Donald Trump’s special representative for Iran said that the Iranian regime was behind the attempt to gain access to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The embassy was stormed on Dec. 31, 2019, by various Iran-backed militias and demonstrators. The groups set fire to outer walls and guard posts, hurled rocks at buildings, and threatened to kill Americans if they got inside the embassy.

The groups dispersed on Jan. 1 after gathering for a second day following reinforcements and rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades from U.S. troops and security forces.

Brian Hook, the special representative, said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday that Trump ordered measures that were necessary “to protect our troops,” including the deployment of a contingent of Marines from Kuwait.

“This is orchestrated by the Iranian regime,” Hook said. “These are the kinds of tactics they used. 40 years ago they stormed our embassy. And here we are 40 years later and they’re directing the terrorist groups to then attack our embassy.”

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This Jan. 1, 2020, image provided by Maxar Technologies shows black smoke coming out of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad. (Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies via AP)
Attackers and assailants set fire
Attackers and assailants set fire to a gate as smoke rises from inside the compound of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 1, 2020. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Desmond Cassell/Task Force-Iraq Public Affairs/Handout via Reuters)

He said the people who gathered at the embassy didn’t represent the Iraqi people.

“We have seen recent protests in Iraq against the Iranian domination in Baghdad. So we have seen thousands of Iraqis rise up against Iranian domination. Iran has been running an expansionist foreign policy for some time. President Trump is standing up to that. And the regime is not used to being told no, but for the last three years, we’ve put in place the kind of sanctions and other deterrent measures that have weakened the regime and weakened its proxies,” he said.

“So the regime does not enjoy the support of the Iraqi people. You had a handful of terrorists who were at our embassy yesterday, but that does not represent the views of the Iraqi people who want Iran out.”

Hook said that the situation became “pretty calm,” adding: “The president and the secretary worked very closely with the Iraqi government. Their security forces have taken all the necessary measures to disperse the crowd there so that we’re not facing an imminent threat to American personnel or to the protection ever our facility in Baghdad.”

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In this photo provided by U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) 19.2, prepare to deploy from Kuwait in support of a crisis response mission on Dec. 31, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photos by Sgt. Robert G. Gavaldon via AP)
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A U.S. Army paratrooper of an immediate reaction force from the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, reaches for his weapon shortly before boarding a C-17 transport aircraft leaving Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Jan. 1, 2020. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

President Donald Trump also said that Iran was behind the protests, which were described by some as being provoked by U.S. airstrikes on the Iran-backed terror group, Kaitaib Hezbollah, after the group killed an American civilian contractor.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible,” Trump said on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the attack on the embassy was orchestrated by terrorists Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qays al-Khazali and “abetted by Iranian proxies” Hadi al Amari and Faleh al-Fayyad, circulating photographs showing the men outside the embassy.

“Today’s attack against the U.S. Embassy should not be confused with the legitimate efforts of the Iraqi protestors who have been in the streets since October working for the people of Iraq to end the corruption exported there by the Iranian regime,” he added on Tuesday.

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