Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, September 25th, 2020

High-Stakes Decision Looms for Trump in Showdown with Iran

High-Stakes Decision Looms for Trump in Showdown with Iran

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump faces one of the greatest tests of his presidency after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. It was Iran’s most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
The strikes pushed Tehran and Washington perilously close to war and put the world’s attention on Trump as he weighs whether to respond with more military force. The Republican president huddled with his national security advisers on Tuesday night but offered no immediate indication of whether he would retaliate. He said in a tweet that “All is well!” and announced plans to address the nation on Wednesday morning.
The Iranian strikes came days after Trump authorized the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Iran had pledged to retaliate, though its actions did not appear to result in any American casualties, according to a U.S. official. The missiles targeted two bases — one in the northern Iraqi city in Irbil and the other at Ain al-Asad in western Iraq.
A lack of U.S. casualties could give Trump an opening to de-escalate the mounting tensions with Iran and pull the nation back from the brink of war. Trump, who is seeking reelection at the end of the year, campaigned for president on a promise to keep the United States from engaging in “endless war.”
Still, Trump’s rhetoric in recent days has been menacing. Just hours before Tuesday’s missile strikes, the president told reporters in the Oval Office: “If Iran does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, they’re going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly.”
Democrats called on Trump avoid a military escalation with Iran.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration needs to quickly “extricate us from what could lead into a full-fledged war with terrible casualties.” Engel said he feared the situation ”spirals out of control.”
The fallout for Trump’s order to kill Soleimani has been swift.
Iran announced that it would no longer be bound by the 2015 nuclear agreement and vowed to retaliate against the U.S., its allies and American interests. Iraq’s parliament also voted to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, which would undermine efforts to fight Islamic State militants in the region and strengthen Iran’s influence in the Mideast.
Trump’s top national security officials made several public appearances on Tuesday to further defend the strike.
“We had deep intelligence indicating there was active plotting to put American lives at risk,” and Iraqi lives, too, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Asked if the threat was imminent in days or weeks, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said: “I think it’s more fair to say days, for sure.”
Esper said the intelligence was precise — “razor thin.” He said top Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate plus the chairmen and vice chairmen of the intelligence committees in both chambers were getting a classified briefing Tuesday on what led to the decision to kill Soleimani. He said other lawmakers will be provided general details about the attack. (AP News)