State Department to downsize presence in Iraq

State Department photo

In a significant shift, the State Department is cutting by half the cadre of diplomats it was planning to keep in Iraq following last December’s withdrawal of U.S. troops, The New York Times reported.

Despite having built an embassy in Baghdad that is among the world’s largest, officials cited continuing suspicions among Iraqis toward the 2,000 Americans there, who themselves report frustration at their inability to circulate outside the embassy compound.

Embassy spokesman Michael McClellan said the State Department during the past year has been “considering ways to appropriately reduce the size of the U.S. mission in Iraq, primarily by decreasing the number of contractors needed to support the embassy’s operations.”

Since U.S. troops departed, sectarian violence and political instability have continued.

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