Correction: U.S. raided Iran's proto consulate in Iraq, regional war postponed
Yesterday, American forces raided what was widely reported to be an Iranian consulate in northern Iraq.
Now the Iraqi foreign minister is helpfully re-describing the facility as an Iraqi-government approved liason office that was in the process of becoming a consulate:
The Iranians were detained Thursday as multinational forces entered the building overnight and confiscated computers and documents, two senior local Kurdish officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
Six people suspected of being involved in attacks against Iraqi civilians and military forces were initially detained, the U.S. military said in a statement. One was later released. The statement did not identify the nationalities of the suspects.
Iraqi and Iranian officials initially said the Iranian office was a diplomatic mission, raising questions about whether those detained had diplomatic immunity. But Zebari told The Associated Press that the Iranians worked at a ''liaison office'' that was in the process of becoming a consulate.
''This office is not new and has been there for more than 10 years,'' he said. ''We are now in the process of changing these offices to consulates and ... we will open consulates in Iran.''
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the facility was an ''office of relations'' and that it was waiting for permission to operate as a consulate. The U.S. Embassy also said it was assured the building was not a consulate. [NYT]Iran reached an agreement Iraq to set up a consulate in Arbil last year. According to Iranian state television the Kurdish authorities had already given the office permission to function as a consulate and the facility was in the "final stages of receiving permission from the Iraqi government".
Spencer Ackerman visited that Arbil office last year, and it was called the Iranian consulate then.