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Are Iranian threats to escalate in Iraqi Kurdistan more hot air?

A picture taken on January 13, 2020, during a press tour organised by the US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the Islamic State group, shows a member the US forces walking past a drone in the Ain al-Asad airbase in the western Iraqi province of Anbar.
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Iran’s demands for US forces to withdraw from a critical air base in Iraqi Kurdistan coupled with threats to expand operations against “American and Zionist mercenaries” are sending jitters across the Kurdish enclave, with many asking how far Tehran will go and what, if anything, the United States will do to stop it.

Mohammed Bagheri, senior commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, appeared to be emboldened by America’s controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling it “a defeat and an embarrassment worse than Vietnam.” In comments to Iran TV on Sunday, Bagheri said, “Iraq and its northern [Kurdish] region should not allow America and the Zionist regime and armed counter-revolutionary groups to have training bases, TV and radio stations, camps [and] military training, then attack our border regions and assassinate our officers.”

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