Trump may seek to distract attention by embarking on foreign adventure
U.S. President Donald Trump, who still can’t get over his defeat in the United States presidential election, has once again issued fiery threats against Iran in response to what he called an Iranian rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Iraq.
Side effect of defeat
Earlier last week, after weeks of relative calm, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad came under rocket attacks on Sunday night. Iraqi news media reported that more than 22 rockets landed in the premises of the embassy, which is located in the heavily fortified district of Green Zone. The attack resulted in the embassy activating its C-RAM defense system, a move that caused a state of panic and fear among Baghdad residents.
“The U.S. embassy confirms rockets targeting the International Zone (Green Zone) resulted in the engagement of embassy defensive systems,” the U.S. embassy said in a statement, adding that the rockets have inflicted only minor damages to the embassy compound. Videos circulating on social media showed the C-RAM system firing a barrage of projectiles into the dark sky in a bid to intercept the rockets even though it failed to intercept them.
The U.S. was quick to blame the attack on Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that “Iran-backed militias” were behind the attack but he did not present any evidence to support his claim.
“Iran-backed militias once again flagrantly and recklessly attacked in Baghdad, wounding Iraqi civilians. The people of Iraq deserve to have these attackers prosecuted. These violent and corrupt criminals must cease their destabilizing actions,” Pompeo said in a tweet.
Iran hit back at Pompeo, calling the attack “dubious” and “unacceptable.” Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, strongly condemned the Pompeo claim.
Speaking at a weekly press conference on Monday, Khatibzadeh said, “Unfortunately, Iran’s diplomatic places in Iraq had also been attacked. We had pursued a steady policy that targeting diplomatic missions and residential areas is unacceptable.”
He added, “But the kind and timing of this attack [on the U.S. embassy], as well as the statement put out by the U.S. secretary of state, show that [the attack] is very dubious. Its timing is dubious. And more importantly, it seems that as if they had already prepared a statement to publish. And I strongly condemn the remarks of the U.S. regime’s secretary of state, who is known for his lies and cheating, whether in his current capacity or in his previous capacity as the CIA director. Therefore, I firmly and strongly condemn the remarks by the U.S. secretary of state.”
Despite Iran’s clear position on the attack, the U.S. continued to blame Iran, with Trump even drawing a red line that, if crossed, he will hold Iran responsible.
“Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN. Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq. Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.
Trump’s tweet elicited a harsh response from Iran’s top diplomat, who warned Trump against any adventurism on his way out.
“@realDonaldTrump uses a worthless photo to recklessly accuse Iran. Last time, the US ruined our region over WMD fabrications, wasting $7 TRILLION & causing 58,976 American casualties. FAR WORSE this time. Trump will bear full responsibility for any adventurism on his way out,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet moments after Trump’s threat against Iran.
A few moments earlier, Zarif had accused Trump of trying to divert attention from his disastrous failures at home by waging wars abroad.
Addressing Trump, Zarif tweeted, “Putting your own citizens at risk abroad won’t divert attention from catastrophic failures at home.”
The chief Iranian diplomat also posted two screenshots; one showing that the Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted the highest death toll in one single day compared to that of other non-Covid-19 events such as 9/11 attacks and the Okeechobee hurricane of 1928, and the other showing a number of Trump’s tweets in which he warns, before his presidency, that Barack Obama would attack Iran to boost his reelection win.
The Trump administration has been widely accused of mismanaging the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. According to Worldometer, a website publishing the latest coronavirus-related data all over the world, more than 337,000 Americans have lost their lives due to Covid-19 and more than 19 million Americans have contracted the virus.
However, despite these alarming numbers, Trump is busy playing politics. He has criticized his fellow Republicans for leaving him alone in his fight against the Democrats whom he accuses of stealing the November presidential election.
In his latest criticism of fellow Republicans, Trump said he has “saved” 8 Republican senators but the Republicans aren’t up in arms defending him against the Democrats.
“I saved at least 8 Republican Senators, including Mitch, from losing in the last Rigged (for President) Election. Now they (almost all) sit back and watch me fight against a crooked and vicious foe, the Radical Left Democrats. I will NEVER FORGET!” Trump tweeted on Friday.
A few hours earlier, Trump had castigated the Republican senators for their silence on the election.
Trump said, “At a meeting in Florida today, everyone was asking why aren’t the Republicans up in arms & fighting over the fact that the Democrats stole the rigged presidential election? Especially in the Senate, they said, where you helped 8 Senators win their races. How quickly they forget!”
Trump has signaled that his fellow Republicans are jumping ship and leaving him without partisan support in the fight against the Democrats. Therefore, Trump may launch new foreign adventurism in the waning days of his presidency to force the Republicans into joining the ranks of MAGA mobs.
But Iran has made it clear that it will decisively respond to any provocations against it. In an interview with CBS in September 2019, Zarif famously warned that there would be no limited war with Iran if the U.S. attacked Iran.
“No. No, I’m not confident that we can avoid a war. We- I’m confident that we will not start one but I’m confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it,” Zarif cautioned at the time. “That means that there won’t be a limited war.”
One year later, Zarif once again warned that any war with Iran would be a “mother of all quagmires.” This warning came after a suspected report was published by Politico claiming that Iran was weighing a plot to kill Lana Marks, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, in revenge for the assassination of IRGC’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, a claim that took many by surprise, including the South African government.
“The habitual liar [Mike Pompeo] bamboozled Donald Trump into assassinating ISIS’ enemy #1 by raising a false alarm. Now he’s trying to sucker him into mother of all quagmires by leaking a new false alarm,” Zarif tweeted in September 2020.
Zarif’s tweet came in response to another tweet by Trump in which the U.S. president threatened to launch “an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”
In late November, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami said “military war has been excluded from the enemy’s options.”
General Salami was responding to reports that Trump asked his senior advisers in an Oval Office meeting whether he had options to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks. The New York Times reported at the time that Trump had asked his senior advisors to provide him with options to attack an Iranian nuclear site but the president’s advisors dissuaded him from moving ahead with the military strike.