U.S. forces in Iraq raided Iran’s consulate in the northern city of Arbil and detained five staff members, a state-run Iranian news service said.
The U.S. soldiers disarmed guards and broke open the consulate’s gate before seizing documents and computers during the operation, which took place today at about 5 a.m. local time, the Islamic Republic News Agency said. There was no immediate information on whether any of those detained are diplomats.
Was this a premeditated and intentional provocation? I’d bet yes. We’ll know I’m wrong and that it wasn’t if the US releases the diplomats and issues a full apology in the next very few hours. Any longer than that and they did it on purpose.
Recall, in this context, how the US felt when Iranian students, supported by their government, seized the US embassy in Tehran…
Update: The first US statement is encouraging. It is not bellicose:
U.S. forces detained six Iranian officials for questioning in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, seat of the Kurdish regional government, an American official said Thursday.
But the official disputes accounts from Iran that the troops broke open a consulate gate and conducted a raid.
“No shots were fired. No altercation ensued,” the U.S. official. “It was a knock on the door and ‘Please come out.’ “
Iran’s government-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported five people were detained and said U.S. forces disarmed guards, broke open the consulate gate and confiscated computers and documents.
The U.S. official asserted the Iranians were not inside an officially designated diplomatic consulate or embassylike building.
Iraqi state-run TV network Al-Iraqiya identified the site as an Iranian consulate, but the Iraqi Foreign Ministry described the building as a “diplomatic representation.”
The U.S. official would not identify the Iranian officials or say why they were being questioned.