U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that Iranian General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated in an operation in Baghdad was planning attacks against four U.S. embassies in the region, including the one in Baghdad. The Trump administration mounted a defense claiming Soleimani constituted an “imminent threat” for the U.S. Not two weeks have passed since the assassination, and their defense seems to have already collapsed.
Last Wednesday, a briefing chaired by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and CIA chief Gina Haspel ended in fiasco. Republican Senator Mike Lee even called it the worse briefing he had attended during his 9 years at the Senate.
If there’s any need for another recap, the Trump administration had no sound proof of an “imminent threat.” In my previous column I had mentioned that Democrats were able to read the discomfort on Milley and Esper’s faces as they defended the assassination during a briefing.
Appearing on Margaret Brennan’s show on CBS News, Defense Secretary Mark Esper admitted that there was no concrete information regarding an “imminent threat.” However, despite this confession Esper said that Trump was convinced. This confession coming from a high-level official shows that Soleimani’s assassination was completely based on guesswork or assumptions. On top of it all, it turned out that no U.S. embassy received any threats of attacks.
Another inconsistency was Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’ Brien claiming that Iran is now more likely to return to the bargaining table after the assassination. How would killing one of Iran’s most famous generals and increasing sanctions give momentum to the negotiations? Can you please think about what might have happened had Iran had a proportionate response to the Soleimani assassination?
According to the planned scenarios, the U.S. would retaliate after the attack forces Iran to respond. When these escalating clashes reach a fever pitch, the U.S. and Iran will be embroiled in a war. Commentary in U.S. media claim that this is the Neocons’ “war scenario,” which included Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
U.S. media reports claim Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played a big role in ordering the assassination. Pompeo is known for being an advocate for a tougher stance on Iran. If a media report making the rounds in the U.S were to be believed, then CIA chief Pompeo had previously said that Soleimani would not be removed from his post without being taken out.
Iranian general Abdulriza Shahlay was targeted by an aerial operation in Yemen a day prior to the Soleimani assassination. However, the attempt was unsuccessful.
Democrats believe these assassinations are part of a greater plan, which would mean that declaring Iran’s revolutionary guards corps a “terrorist organization” was a pretext for these assassinations. Democrats pointed that such an attack against the army of a foreign country is in violation of the constitution that grants Congress the authority to declare war.
Now Democrats, along with anti-war Republican senators like Rand Paul and Mike Lee are working on a resolution draft to respond to Trump using military power against Iran.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in a tweet that he is proud for working with Republican senator Mike Lee. Noting that defending the constitution isn’t a partisan issue, Sanders said he would do everything in his power to pass a resolution with bi-partisan majority against starting a war with Iran.
Since Iran was unable to formulate a proportionate response to the Soleimani assassination, Neocons' provocation scenario appears to have foundered. But of course, Neocons, Israel and other sponsors in the region will not be sitting on their hands!