Embassy of the United States, Baghdad

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Embassy of the United States, Baghdad
Native name
Arabic: سفارة الولايات المتحدة، بغداد
Seal of an Embassy of the United States of America.svg
U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.png
Chancery Building
LocationIraq Baghdad, Iraq
Coordinates33°17′56″N 44°23′46″E / 33.299°N 44.396°E / 33.299; 44.396Coordinates: 33°17′56″N 44°23′46″E / 33.299°N 44.396°E / 33.299; 44.396
Embassy of the United States, Baghdad is located in Iraq
Embassy of the United States, Baghdad
Location of Embassy of the United States, Baghdad in Iraq
Former Ambassador to Iraq John D. Negroponte, right, shows honors to the colors as U.S. Marine Security Guards raise the U.S. flag on the grounds of the old U.S. Embassy in Iraq on July 1, 2004.

The Embassy of the United States of America in Baghdad is the diplomatic mission of the United States of America in the Republic of Iraq. Ambassador Matthew Tueller is currently the Chief of Mission.[1]

At 104 acres (42 ha), it is the largest embassy in the world, and is nearly as large as Vatican City.[2] The embassy complex is about five times the size of the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, which is the second largest U.S. diplomatic mission abroad, and over ten times the size of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which is the third largest U.S. diplomatic mission abroad.[3]

The embassy opened in January 2009 following a series of construction delays. It replaced the previous embassy, which opened July 1, 2004 in Baghdad's Green Zone in a former Palace of Saddam Hussein.[4] The embassy complex cost $750 million to build and reached a peak staffing of 16,000 employees and contractors in 2012.[5]

On 31 December 2019, the embassy was attacked by supporters of Popular Mobilization Forces militia in response to airstrikes in Iraq and Syria conducted by United States Air Force the previous Sunday.[6] The embassy was also repeatedly attacked by Iranian-aligned Iraqi Shiite militias and Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps following President Trump's order for a drone strike assassination against Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad Airport on 3 January 2020.


1930–1967: Origins[edit]

The United States established diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1930 and opened a legation in Baghdad. The legation was upgraded to an embassy in 1946. A new building was designed by Josep Lluís Sert in 1955 and completed in 1957, with its main priority on keeping the building cool rather than to ensure security.[7][8]

1967–2003: Turbulent relations[edit]

This building remained the embassy until the Six-Day War of 1967, when many Arab countries broke off diplomatic relations with the United States. In 1972, the embassy became the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) of the Belgian Embassy to Iraq, as Belgium was the protecting power for the United States presence in Iraq. USINT, however, was not housed in the building the Embassy had occupied prior to 1967, as that building had been taken over and made into the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. USINT was housed in what had earlier been the Romanian Embassy building, in the Masbah section of the city, on the east bank of the Tigris and opposite the Foreign Ministry Club. The U.S. Interests Section was again upgraded to an embassy in 1984 after the resumption of U.S.–Iraqi diplomatic relations. The building lost its embassy status just before the Gulf War in 1991, which caused a second breach of diplomatic relations between the two countries.[9] The U.S. Interests Section was then re-established with Poland as the protecting power.

2003–2008: Republican Palace[edit]

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. then established diplomatic relations with the new Iraqi government. Because the old U.S. embassy was located outside of the Green Zone, it was deemed unsafe for American diplomats and remained deserted. A temporary embassy was established in the Republican Palace.[10]

2008–present: New embassy[edit]

A new complex for the embassy was constructed along the Tigris River, west of the Arbataash Tamuz Bridge, and facing Al-Kindi street to the north. The embassy is a permanent structure which has provided a new base for the 5,500 Americans currently living and working in Baghdad. During construction, the US government kept many aspects of the project under wraps, with many details released only in a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report.[11] Apart from the 1,000 regular employees, up to 3,000 additional staff members have been hired, including security personnel.

With construction beginning in mid-2005, the original target completion date was September 2007. "A week after submitting his FY2006 budget to Congress, the President sent Congress an FY2005 emergency supplemental funding request. Included in the supplemental is more than $1.3 billion for the embassy in Iraq." An emergency supplemental appropriation (H.R. 1268/P.L. 109-13), which included $592 million for embassy construction, was signed into law on May 11, 2005. According to the Department of State, this funding was all that was needed for construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.[12] However, Walter Pincus of The Washington Post found that the new embassy had cost more than $700 million by 2012,[13] and Business Insider reported in 2013 that the cost of the embassy had surpassed $750 million.[14] The Obama administration requested more than $100 million for a "massive" upgrade to the embassy compound in 2012.[15] As of 2006, construction was being led by the Kuwaiti firm First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting.[16][17][18]

The embassy has extensive housing and infrastructure facilities in addition to the usual diplomatic buildings. The buildings include:[11]

  • Six apartment buildings for employees
  • Water and waste treatment facilities
  • A power station
  • Two "major diplomatic office buildings"
  • Recreation, including a gym, cinema, several tennis courts and an Olympic-size swimming pool

The complex is heavily fortified, even by the standards of the Green Zone. The details are largely secret, but it is likely to include a significant US Marine Security Guard detachment. Fortifications include deep security perimeters, buildings reinforced beyond the usual standard, and five highly guarded entrances.[citation needed]

On October 5, 2007, the Associated Press reported the initial target completion date of September would not be met, and that it was unlikely any buildings would be occupied until 2008.[19] In May 2008, US diplomats began moving into the embassy.[20]

The embassy formally opened over a year behind schedule in January 2009 with a staff of over 16,000 people, mostly contractors, but including 2,000 diplomats. In February 2012, weeks after the final departure of US Military forces from Iraq, the State Department announced that the staff would be greatly reduced because of budget concerns and a re-evaluation of diplomatic strategy in Iraq, in light of the military withdrawal.[21]

The Office of Security Cooperation - Iraq, part of the larger Embassy after the 2011 U.S. withdrawal held the remaining DOD support personnel, totalling about 1,000 contractors and about 147 DOD uniformed personnel. It operated from ten locations around Iraq, and managed about 370 Foreign Military Sales cases, totaling more than US$9 billion of pending arms sales, citing a February 2012 Congressional Research Service report.[22] The biggest program underway was the much-delayed sale of 18 Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.

On May 15, 2019, the United States Department of State ordered all non-emergency, non-essential government employees at the Embassy and Erbil consulate office to leave Iraq amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf between the United States and Iran.[23][24] On December 31, 2019, thousands of demonstrators attacked the embassy and breached the outside walls in response to an airstrike that killed 25 on December 27.[25] President Donald Trump blamed Iran for the embassy attack[26] and deployed 750 troops to Baghdad.[27]

On January 26, 2020, the embassy was struck by three rockets. One of the rockets struck a cafeteria. The United States urged Iraq to protect the embassy.[28]


There have been allegations of unethical practices (false promises to foreign employees for jobs in UAE or Kuwait, charging employees large sums to be given the jobs, and confiscating passports to not be allowed to leave) and human trafficking by First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Company, a contractor engaged during the construction of the new U.S. embassy.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Term of Appointment". Department of State. September 1, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  2. ^ "New embassy in Iraq a mystery". NBC News. April 14, 2006. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  3. ^ "New embassy reflects growing ties to China". Associated Press. August 4, 2008. A massive new U.S. Embassy, the second-largest in the world after the heavily fortified compound in Baghdad, formally opens in the Chinese capital this week, a testament to the depth and breadth of the ties binding the trading partners and sometimes rivals.
  4. ^ "New US embassy opens in Baghdad The compound" BBC News (January 5, 2009)
  5. ^ Arango, Tim (February 7, 2012). "U.S. Is Planning to Cut Its Staff at Iraq Embassy by as Much as Half". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Militiamen breach US Embassy in Baghdad;".
  7. ^ Isenstadt, Samuel (February 1997). ""Faith in a Better Future": Josep Luis Sert's American Embassy in Baghdad". Journal of Architectural Education. 50 (3): 172–88. JSTOR 1425469.
  8. ^ Kemp, Martin (May 23, 2007). "'Diplomacy has no place in this monstrous bunker'". Guardian. UK. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  9. ^ "Iraq". State.gov. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  10. ^ H.D.S. Greenway (November 8, 2005). "The atypical ambassador". Boston Globe. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  11. ^ a b New U.S. Embassy in Iraq cloaked in mystery, MSNBC, April 14, 2006
  12. ^ CRS Report to Congress, U.S. Embassy in Iraq, CRS2, June 29, 2006
  13. ^ Troops have withdrawn from Iraq, but U.S. money hasn't July 27, 2012
  14. ^ The US Embassy In Baghdad Cost A Staggering $750 Million March 20, 2013, Business Insider
  15. ^ The Biggest And Most Expensive Embassy In The World Is About To Get A Massive Upgrade June 29, 2012, Business Insider
  16. ^ Giant U.S. embassy rising in Baghdad, USA TODAY, April 19, 2006.
  17. ^ Oliver Poole US super-embassy emerges in the heart of Baghdad[dead link], The Daily Telegraph June 7, 2006
  18. ^ Baghdad Embassy Bonanza, Kuwait Company's Secret Contract & Low-Wage Labor, CorpWatch, February 12, 2006
  19. ^ Huge US Embassy compound delayed - CNN.com Archived October 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "U.S. Ambassador to Iraq says embassy ready". USA Today. April 11, 2008. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  21. ^ "U.S. Planning to Slash Iraq Embassy Staff by Half - New York Times - February 7 2012
  22. ^ Daniel Wasserbly, "Boots Up: Building An Army from Scratch," Jane's International Defence Review, May 2012, p.40.
  23. ^ U.S. pulls staff from Iraq amid concerns over Iran
  24. ^ The Latest: UAE diplomat says coalition will retaliate
  25. ^ Protesters storm US Embassy in Baghdad after Iraq airstrikes BY JUSTINE COLEMAN, The Hill, Dec 31, 2019
  26. ^ Trump blames Iran for attack on U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad By QUINT FORGEY, Politico, Dec 31, 2019
  27. ^ US deploys 750 troops to Middle East after Baghdad embassy attack Al Jazeera, Jan 1, 2020.
  28. ^ "Rockets 'hit US embassy' in Iraq capital amid anti-gov't protests". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  29. ^ CRS Report for Congress, U.S. Embassy in Iraq, MSNBC, April 14, 2006

External links[edit]