President Trump has warned that the US will “target” 52 Iranian locations and strike “very quickly and very hard” if Tehran attacks Americans or US assets.
The President’s statements followed the US assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, in a drone attack.
The murder of Soleimani was a major escalation between the two nations, and Iran promised to take “heavy revenge”.
Trump accused Iran on Twitter of “talking very boldly about targeting certain US assets”.
He said the US had identified 52 Iranian locations, some of which were “very high quality and important to Iran and Iranian culture”, and warned that if Tehran attacked the US, it would hit “VERY FAST AND HARD” ,
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Why the US was targeting Soleimani
The president said the targets affected 52 Americans who have been held hostage in Iran for more than a year since the end of 1979 after being picked up by the US embassy in Tehran.
Shortly after the president’s tweets were released, a government agency website appeared to have been hacked by a group called “Iran Cyber Security Group Hackers”. The website of the American Federal Depository Library Program states: “This is news from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“We will not stop supporting our friends in the region: the oppressed people of Palestine, the oppressed people of Yemen, the people and the Syrian government, the people and the government of Iraq, the oppressed people of Bahrain, the real Mujahideen Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, we always support them. ”
The website contained a picture of President Trump in which he was hit in the face and bled at the mouth. “This is only a small part of Iran’s cyber capability!” Read the text on the website.
What happened earlier on Saturday?
Trump’s tweets followed a large funeral procession for General Soleimani in Baghdad, in which he was killed in a targeted drone attack on Friday when he left the airport in a convoy. Mourners waved the Iraqi and militia flags and sang “Death to America”.
Shortly after the procession, several rocket strikes shook the area, including one in the Green Zone near the US embassy. The Iraqi military said nobody was injured.
No group immediately took responsibility for the missile attacks. Pro-Iranian fighters have been held responsible for other recent attacks.
Soleimani’s body returned to Iran on Sunday, the IRIB news agency reported.
With Iran already facing severe reprisals for killing the Quds Force commander, President Trump has clearly stated that the best way to de-escalate is to increase stakes in advance and make it clear what will happen if Tehran complies with its threats.
The Trump tweet is strange in many ways – not least the symbolic mention of 52 Iranian targets at risk – a reference to the 52 U.S. hostages who were seized at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in November 1979.
His mention of goals that are “important for Iranian culture” suggests a much broader list of goals that are not limited to leadership, the military, or the economy.
President Trump is trying to act as a deterrent. But the ball is now very clear in the Iranian field and it is very difficult to see how Tehran can fail.
Mr. Trump has followed a contradicting policy since he gave up the nuclear deal with Tehran – increasing economic pressure, impending military action, but very little, even when Iran shot down a sophisticated U.S. drone and hit oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Above all, he has repeatedly underlined his and Washington’s tiredness with his military engagement in the region. This, like everything else, has undermined the US deterrence, something that Trump is now trying to belatedly restore.
Why did the US kill Soleimani?
General Soleimani was widely regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The 62-year-old led operations in the Middle East of Iran as head of the elite Quds force and was celebrated as a heroic national figure.
But the US has branded the Quds Force commander and terrorists, blaming them for the deaths of hundreds of US employees.
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On Friday afternoon, President Trump said Soleimani was planning “impending and sinister attacks” on US diplomats and military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
The general was killed in an air raid on Baghdad airport on Friday by order of President Trump. The president said the measure was taken to stop a war, not start it.
Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei said “severe revenge awaits the criminals” behind the US attack. Soleimani’s death would double “resistance” to the United States and Israel, he added.
The Iraqis also mourn Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi who commanded the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group Kataib and was killed along with Soleimani.
The group warned the Iraqi security forces “to stay at least 1,000 meters away from American bases as of Sunday evening,” reported al-Mayadeen TV.
In response to Iran’s revenge threats, the United States has sent 3,000 more troops to the Middle East and advised its citizens to leave Iraq.
Democrats warn of “dangerous escalation” with Iran and question whether Trump has a plan
On Saturday, the White House sent a formal notification to the U.S. Congress of Friday’s drone attack, in accordance with a 1973 law that requires the government to alert Congress of immediate or upcoming military action within 48 hours of the deployment of the armed forces got to.
It should be clarified under what authority the strike was started and what type and duration of the military deployment is expected. The notification is classified.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said she “poses serious and pressing questions about the timing, nature, and justification of the government’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran.”