Warren Says the Truth: It’s About Trump’s Impeachment

 

Elizabeth Warren Questions Timing of Iran Attack

Today 3:05pm

Image: via Getty

On Meet the Press on Sunday, Elizabeth Warren pointed out that the timing on Donald Trump’s ordered assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani seems just a tad fishy.

We are not safer because Donald Trump had Soleimani killed,” Warren told host Chuck Todd. “We are much closer to the edge of war. The question is, why now?”

Indeed, why now? What could possibly be happening that might inspire Trump to drastically alter the course of political discussion?

Ah, right.

I think the question people reasonably ask is next week, Donald Trump faces the start, potentially, of an impeachment trial,” Warren said. “Why now? I think people are starting to ask, ‘Why now, did he do this?’”

I’m no foreign policy expert—unlike, it seems, everyone on my Twitter timeline suddenly—but the timing on the Soleimani attack seems pretty obvious, right? Even Todd admitted that this week’s Meet the Press show would have focused on impeachment, had Trump not stoked the fires for a potential World War III. I’m not sure people are asking, “Why now?” as Warren posits, so much as they are saying, “Yes, I know exactly why now.”

In fact, the Republican presidential playbook seems to involve starting wars in the first term to ensure re-election in the second term. It hasn’t worked for every president, but it certainly worked for Ellen Degeneres’s best friend, and it might work for this one, too.

Iraq Orders US Troops Out (Daniel 8 )

Iraqi parliament votes to expel US troops — awaits government approval

Parliament has backed a resolution to ask the government to end the agreement to host US troops in Iraq. The move would oust US troops and all other foreign soldiers, including those from Germany, from the country.

The Iraqi parliament voted on Sunday to remove US troops from Iraq.

In an extraordinary session, lawmakers voted for a resolution to ask the government to end an agreement with Washington to station 5,200 troops in Iraq.

The resolution specifically calls for ending a 2014 agreement that allowed Washington to send troops to Iraq to help in the fight against the “Islamic State” group.

“The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory,” the resolution read.

“The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”

Germany seeks ‘stability and unity’

The decision to expel forces from the country also includes representations from other nations, among them Germany’s. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) expressed his concerns over the increasing tensions in the Middle East, but also iterated that the Iraqi government’s position must be respected.

“Our overriding interest is that stability and unity in Iraq is not falling victim to the recent escalation.” Maas stressed. On the Iraqi government, the German foreign minister added: “We will respect every decision.”

Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that officials are preparing a memo for legal and procedural steps to implement parliament’s resolution. The militia leader also said that if US troops remains then they will be considered an occupying force.

The resolution will also apply to other countries’ armies. The German government said later on Sunday that their military presence in Iran would “only remain if the Iraqi government want that.”

What does the resolution mean?

The resolution is nonbinding, but it is likely to be heeded by the government as Abdul-Mahdi supports the measures.

The resolution was passed two days after the US killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq, by airstrikes.

“The parliament has voted to commit the Iraqi government to cancel its request to the international coalition for help to fight IS,” Parliament Speaker Mohammed Halbusi announced.

Populist Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr called for a more substantial response to the killing.

“I consider this a weak response, insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation,” said Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in parliament, in a letter to the assembly read aloud by a supporter.

Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in 2019

Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi also told parliament that Soleimani was due to meet him the day he was killed and deliver a response from the Iranians to a Saudi message that could have led to a de-escalation of tensions in the region, according to Reuters news agency.

Iraqi officials have also summoned the US envoy to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, over the airstrikes.

“[The airstrikes] were a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. They “contradict the agreed-upon missions of the international coalition.”

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry also lodged an official complaint with the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council over the US airstrikes on Sunday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi

The complaint is about “American attacks and aggression on Iraqi military positions and the assassination of Iraqi and allied high-level military commanders on Iraqi soil,” according to the Foreign Ministry.

Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi, who was in attendance in parliament on Sunday, urged parliament to end the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.

“Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically,” he told MPs.

Abdul-Mahdi, who resigned on December 1 but has remained in place as caretaker prime minister, also urged lawmakers to vote for a new prime minister and government as soon as possible.

Rocket attack

Later Sunday, at least three explosions reverberated across the Iraqi capital as sirens could be heard near the Tigris River.

The blasts appeared to be mortars or rockets that landed inside, or near, the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the US embassy and a number of other foreign diplomatic missions, as well as the seat of Iraq’s government.

Initially, at least, no casualties were reported after what was the second attack of its nature in the last 48 hours.

The Iran Deal is Over! (Daniel 8:4)

Iran abandons nuclear deal over Soleimani killing

• 05/01/2020 – 19:32

The body Qassem Soleimani will tour Iran before burial in his hometown on Tuesday. –

Iran will no longer abide by any of the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal, the country’s state television reported on Sunday.

The announcement came Sunday night after another Iranian official said it would consider taking even-harsher steps over the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Friday in Baghdad. State TV cited a statement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s administration saying the country will not observe limitations on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities.

It did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog observing Iran’s program, could not be immediately reach for comment.

Earlier on Sunday, Iraq voted to expel foreign troops and Hezbollah pledged to end America’s military’s presence across in the Middle East over the killing of an Iranian general in a US drone strike.

The country’s parliament ended an agreement with Washington that invited US-led coalition troops to Iraq more than four years ago to help in the fight against Islamic State (IS).

It came as tens of thousands of mourners took to the streets to see the remains of Qassem Soleimani carried through two major cities as part of a grand two-day funeral procession across the Islamic Republic.

In other key developments on Sunday:

Donald Trump said he is ready to attack 52 high-profile sites in Iran if it retaliates against US troops — a number matching the US hostages held during the 1979-80 Tehran embassy siege.

• Iran responded that attacking cultural sites would be considered a war crime.

• Pope Francis urged dialogue, saying that “war brings only death and destruction.”

• Hezbollah said US bases, warships and soldiers around the Middle East are fair targets.

• A base used by the US military in Kenya came under attack.

• Israeli PM Netanyahu said Trump is “worthy of all appreciation” for killing Soleimani.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, said the US military “will pay the price” for Soleimani’s killing.

“The suicide attackers who forced the Americans to leave our region in the past are still here and their numbers have increased,” Nasrallah said. “The shoe of Qassem Soleimani is worth the head of Trump and all American leaders.”

Where and when is the Soleimani funeral taking place?

Thousands mourned Soleimani in Baghdad on Saturday, before authorities flew his body to the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz.

Ahvaz was a focus of fighting during the bloody, 1980-88 war between Iraq and Iran in which the general slowly grew to prominence. Soleimani later ran the elite Quds Force that works with proxy fighting groups to secure Iranian interests in countries including Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Soleimani’s body is expected to move to Mashhad later Sunday, then onward to Tehran and Qom on Monday for public mourning processions, then finally onto his hometown of Kerman for burial Tuesday.

What is the significance of Trump’s 52 sites in Iran?

Trump’s tweet refers to the 1979 Iran hostage crisis that overshadowed the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

The US embassy in Tehran was invaded on November 4, 1979, after the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the Washington-backed shah.

The crisis lasted a year before the hostages were released to coincide with the January 1980 inauguration of president Ronald Reagan.

Antichrist mourns Soleimani, says followers ready to defend Iraq


BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Populist Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr mourned on Friday the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leaders in a U.S. air strike in Baghdad and said his militias were ready to defend Iraq.

“As the patron of the patriotic Iraqi resistance I give the order for all mujahideen, especially the Mehdi Army, Promised Day Brigade, and all patriotic and disciplined groups to be ready to protect Iraq,” he said in a statement.

Sadr, who positions himself as a nationalist rejecting both U.S. and Iranian interference in Iraq, called on all sides to behave with “wisdom and shrewdness” however.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Maha El Dahan

Why We Must Brace for the Media Persian War

Why the U.S. Assassination of Iranian Quds Force Leader Qasem Soleimani Has the U.S. Bracing for Retaliation

The assassination by U.S. airstrike of Iran’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani on Friday immediately ignited concern that the asymmetrical warfare he famously championed would not only survive his death but also avenge it.

U.S. military facilities across the Middle East ramped up security and the U.S. embassy urged American citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” after the Pentagon confirmed President Donald Trump had ordered the strike against Soleimani.

The killing was not like other attacks to eliminate enemies of the U.S.—the raids that killed Osama bin Laden or ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Soleimani was a major public figure in Iran, a Major General in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, who was easily the most popular official in an Iranian government that generally is not. Inside Iran, and on social media posts circulated globally, he was the frontman of, as well as chief architect for, Iran’s regional ambitions – in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and, most immediately in Iraq, where he met his end.

“Soleimani was the international face of resistance,” Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement, “and all lovers of resistance will be his avengers.” He promised that “harsh retaliation is waiting.”

In and around Tehran’s grand mosque, Iranians took to the streets to shout “Death to America” and “revenge.”

After announcing his death, Iranian state television suspended all programming and displayed a photograph of Soleimani accompanied by mournful recitations from the Quran, signaling a major event. State TV also began airing footage of Iranian forces in combat, from the Iran-Iraq War— which Soleimani fought in—to Lebanon and Syria.

Soleimani’s death, on a roadway in Baghdad’s international airport, threatened to sharply escalate U.S. hostilities with Iran. The airstrike was Trump’s second military response to Iranian measures that had grown steadily more audacious over the seven months they went unanswered. The current cycle began on Dec. 27, when a sustained rocket attack on a U.S. base in Iraq’s north killed a defense contractor working for the Americans.

Trump blamed the attack on a militia backed by Iran, Kataib Hezbollah, and on Sunday U.S. aircraft hit the militia, killing 24. Two days later, militia backers penetrated the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, burning outbuildings and chanting “Death to America.” In the crowd at the embassy was Kataib Hezbollah founder Abu Madhi Muhandis, who was killed in the strike along with Soleimani.

Soleimani, 62, commanded the Quds Force, the branch of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for operations abroad, from sabotage and terror strikes to supplying militias that operated as Iran’s proxy forces. In Afghanistan, he reportedly advocated cooperation with U.S. forces against the Taliban, a Sunni-fundamentalist group that had been a constant threat to Iran, which sees itself as the leader of the rival Shi’ite sect of Islam. But the tentative alliance did not survive President George W. Bush’s inclusion of Iran in his “axis of evil,” and then the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which placed more than 100,000 American troops on Iran’s border.

Iran’s evolving response to the invasion may offer a clue to how it will respond to Soleimani’s assassination. At times when the U.S. has showed off military strength, the Islamic Republic has appeared cowed. Within hours of a 2003 U.S .cruise missiles strike on Ansar al-Islam, a Sunni terrorist group in northern Iraq that Iran had found it convenient to aid, Tehran closed the border over which it had supplied arms, and laid very low. And according to published U.S. intelligence estimates, it was after the fall of Saddam Hussein that Iran, apparently intimidated by the U.S. forces next door, abandoned work on an atomic warhead, while continuing the civilian side of its nuclear program.

But when armed resistance rose against the U.S. during the Iraq War, Soleimani’s Quds Force joined the fight. Iran funded and armed militias that shelled American bases and diplomatic installations—and supplied enhanced booby traps capable of penetrating U.S. armor. The so-called EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) were responsible for at least 250 U.S. deaths in Iraq.

Soleimani was never one to hide his light. In 2008, an intermediary delivered a written message to Gen. David Petraeus, who then commanded the Multi-National Forces in Iraq. “General Petraeus,” it read, “you should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.”

In the decade that followed, Soleimani was the face of an Iranian regime hugely empowered by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which first toppled its longtime enemy, Saddam Hussein, then unleashed the electoral power of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority in a democratic system the U.S. established on sectarian lines. With the retreat of the U.S. from the region and the destabilization from the Arab Spring, Iran took advantage of the region’s descent into sectarian camps—Sunni against Shi’a— as national identities crumbled.

Into Syria, Iran sent both its own forces to save President Bashar Assad, and those of Hezbollah, the militia it had set up in Lebanon decades ago. It found a new client in the Houthi rebels of Yemen, who drew regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates into a cruel war. And despite a $1 trillion U.S. investment, and thousands of American lives, Iran remained by far the most powerful country in Iraq.

When the extremist army of ISIS emerged there in 2014, and rolled over Iraq’s army, Soleimani beat the U.S. to the front lines, providing the first arms to the ethnic Kurdish forces who would halt the terrorist’s advance. In Baghdad, the government called for militias to mobilize against ISIS, another windfall for the Quds Force, as most fighters organized by sect. Among the posters published in Iran in the hours after his death was one reading, in English: “General Soleimani, Antiterrorism”

President Trump Ordered Strike That Killed Top Iran Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Pentagon Says

The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump

In a Twitter post, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called Soleimani “THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al” and called his assassination an “extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.”

Iran, of course, had done most of the escalating over the previous year—steadily testing Trump in the realm of asymmetrical warfare as he tightened the screws on Iran’s economy in hopes of forcing Tehran to re-open negotiations on the nuclear agreement Trump had unilaterally quit.

But as Trump declined to react military, Iran’s attacks grew bolder—from attacking oil tankers (“very minor,” Trump told TIME, of one), to shooting down a U.S. drone (Trump ordered an counter-attack, then called it off), to, in September, bombing key Saudi oil facilities. Trump’s first military response came only this week, after the contractor’s death. And events quickly spiraled to an aerial assassination that brought gasps among those who knew Soleimani’s importance to Iran.

In 2017, when TIME included Soleimani on its list of the 100 most influential people, former CIA analyst Kenneth M. Pollack wrote that “To Middle Eastern Shi’ites, he is James Bond, Erwin Rommel and Lady Gaga rolled into one.” Inside Iran, his successes abroad evoke the past glories of the Persian empire that, in its early years, the Islamic Republic worked to downplay, because they predated Islam. But the ayatollahs have lately found an asset in nationalism; another poster memorializing Soleimani labels him “PERSIAN GENERAL.”

So popular was he with the Iranian public that Soleimani was envisioned—at least by some in Tehran—as a figure who might provide much-needed public faith in the regime after the eventual passing of the Supreme Leader, now 80—perhaps by becoming the public face of the Islamic Republic while a new top cleric found his feet. That notion, however real or plausible, was also destroyed on the Baghdad pavement.

“The US,” Iran’s foreign minister declared, “bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

Revenge Vowed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Iranian demonstrators hold up mobile phones showing pictures of late Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in front of the UN office in Tehran, Jan. 3, 2020. Photo: Nazanin Tabatabaee / WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters.

Hezbollah, Hamas and Assad Regime Praise Soleimani, Vow Revenge for Iranian General’s Death

Iran’s Shi’a terror proxy in Lebanon on Friday reacted furiously to the news of the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad, but stopped short of specifying exactly how it planned to respond.

Hailing Soleimani as a “master of resistance,” Hassan Nasrallah — the leader of Hezbollah, the Lebanese group backed by Iran for the past four decades — issued a vehement warning to the US and Israel.

“Meting out the appropriate punishment to these criminal assassins will be the responsibility and task of all resistance fighters worldwide,” Nasrallah declared in a statement,

“To continue on General Soleimani’s path, we will carry his flag on all battlefields and all fronts and we will step up the victories of the axis of resistance with the blessing of his pure blood,” the Hezbollah chieftain continued.

On Sunday, Hezbollah will hold a rally in Beirut’s southern suburbs to commemorate Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis — the leader of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq who was killed in the same airstrike.

Harsh condemnation of the assassinations came as well from Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules Gaza, and the Damascus regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a statement, Hamas leaders saluted “one of the most prominent Iranian military leaders who had a major role in supporting the Palestinian resistance in different fields.”

A Syrian official meanwhile accused the US of embarking upon “a serious escalation of the situation.” The Assad regime — which has been heavily supported by both Iran and Russia in the nearly decade-long civil war in Syria — added that the US had resorted to “the methods of criminal gangs.”

In marked contrast, Syrian opposition leaders hailed Soleimani’s death as proof that Iran was not invincible.

“The murder of Qasem Soleimani, the number one perpetrator of Revolutionary Guards’ crimes against the people of Syria and Iraq, is a blow that confirms that the world is able to stop Iran and protect Syrian civilians if it wants to,” Nasr Hariri, a senior political opposition leader, said.

Ahmed Ramadan, another prominent opposition figure, also welcomed the US strike.

“The killer of Syria’s children has been killed, the killer of Iraq’s free people has been killed,” he said in a post on social media.

Here’s Why Trump Killed Iranian Commander Qassem Soleimani

Here’s why neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who the US just took out in an airstrike

Grace Panetta

• On Thursday, the Pentagon confirmed that US forces killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike near Baghdad’s airport at the direction of President Donald Trump.

• As the leader of the elite and secretive Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani abetted terrorism and violence throughout the region, including against US troops.

Neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama took action as president to target Soleimani or the Quds Force.

• Former military and intelligence officials have cited the potential for retaliation from Iran against US troops, diplomats, and allied forces in the region as a major reason for not killing Soleimani previously.

• In the immediate aftermath of the strike on Soleimani, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that “harsh retaliation” would be waiting for the US.

On Thursday evening, the Pentagon confirmed that at the direction of President Donald Trump, US forces killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike near Baghdad’s airport, the most drastic step toward conflict with Iran in the 21st century.

Soleimani was for decades one of the most important and highly regarded military figures in Iran, playing a pivotal role in shaping Iranian foreign policy and the politics of the Middle East today.

The killing of the high-level commander, first reported by Iraqi state TV and later confirmed in a Pentagon statement, is the US’s most significant escalation of tensions against Iran yet and is likely to further inflame conflict in the region and provoke severe retaliation.

In the immediate aftermath of the strike on Soleimani, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that “harsh retaliation” would be waiting for the US, while a former military official, Mohsen Rezaee, vowed to “take vigorous revenge on America.”

As the leader of the elite and secretive Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which carries out foreign intelligence operations outside of Iran, Soleimani abetted terrorism and violence throughout the region on several fronts. The Pentagon said he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US service members in Iraq and beyond.

Soleimani’s intelligence work focused on bolstering the influence of Shiite Muslims by helping build up the firepower of terrorist groups like Hezbollah, supporting Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip, and attacking American forces in Iraq, The New York Times reported.

Most recently, Soleimani was best known for taking on the terrorist group ISIS to bolster Bashar Assad’s government in Syria.

Despite the havoc Soleimani wreaked on the Middle East, neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama took action as president to target Soleimani or anyone from the Quds Force.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat from Michigan who worked as a CIA analyst and Pentagon official on Middle East issues under both Bush and Obama, shed some insight on Friday on why neither administration tried to kill Soleimani.

Slotkin wrote in a Twitter thread that she “participated in countless conversations on how to respond to Qassem Soleimani’s violent campaigns across the region,” adding that the “sophistication of Soleimani’s covert and overt military activities” had “contributed to significant destabilization across the region.”

Previous administrations decided that attacking Soleimani wasn’t worth the risk

Slotkin said that “what always kept both Democratic and Republican presidents from targeting Soleimani himself was the simple question: Was the strike worth the likely retaliation, and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict?”

She added that “the two administrations I worked for both determined that the ultimate ends didn’t justify the means.”

Specifically, Slotkin cited the potential for retaliation from Iran against US troops, diplomats, and allied forces in the region as a major reason, writing that “it is critical that the Administration has thought out the moves and counter-moves this attack will precipitate.”

So far, analysts and experts have predicted that Iran could retaliate against the United States in the form of cyberattacks and targeting US military personnel and diplomats in the region. In the aftermath of the attacks, the US State Department ordered all American citizens in Iraq to leave the country.

But as Iran expert and Carnegie Endowment senior fellow Karim Sadjadpour noted on Friday, Iran’s possible retaliatory actions against the United States could extend to its network of proxies far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East itself. 

Sadjadpour wrote on Twitter that instead of Iran engaging in a direct armed conflict with the US, “what’s more likely is sustained proxy attacks against US interests/allies regionally and even globally,” noting that “Iran has a long history of such attacks in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with mixed success.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was the head of the Joint Special Operations Command in the Bush administration, in a 2009 article for Foreign Policy recounted his decision not to attack Soleimani’s convoy in Iraq on a night in 2007.

McChrystal said that while “there was good reason” to attack Soleimani over the deaths of US forces by Iranian-placed roadside bombs in Iraq, “to avoid a firefight, and the contentious politics that would follow, I decided that we should monitor the caravan, not strike immediately.”

“Despite my initial jealousy of Suleimani’s freedom to get things done quickly, I believe such restraint is a strength of the US political system,” he wrote. “A zealous and action-oriented mindset, if unchecked, can be used as a force for good — but if harnessed to the wrong interests or values, the consequences can be dire.”

US policy toward Iran shifted markedly in the Obama administration, which attempted to improve relations with Iran and ended up negotiating a landmark nuclear deal in 2015. Under the conditions of the deal, it wouldn’t have made sense for the US to take out one of the country’s top officials.

Questions remain surrounding the rationale behind the US’ decision to strike Soleimani now

But Trump, who criticized Obama’s Iran policy for years, took a more aggressive approach toward Iran, withdrawing from the nuclear agreement and significantly inflaming tensions both by antagonizing Iranian officials on Twitter, and the military expanding its presence in the region.

Michael Singh, who was a senior director for Middle East affairs on the National Security Council under Bush and is now the managing director of The Washington Institute, told Insider that Trump’s more adversarial posturing toward Iran and the failures of past policy likely drove the administration to take the drastic step of killing Soleimani.

“Previous administrations concluded that the risks of targeting high-level figures outweighed the prospective benefits,” he said. “The Trump administration — mindful, perhaps, of the unsatisfying results of past US restraint — clearly reached a different conclusion.”

In a Friday Twitter thread, veteran foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, who covers the Middle East and groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda for The New York Times, reported even more details that cast significant doubt on the Pentagon’s claim that Soleimani was planning an imminent attack that would pose a direct threat to American lives and interests.

Citing US intelligence officials briefed on the strike, Callimachi described the purported evidence of Soleimani’s planned moves as “razor-thin,” with one source describing the justification for taking out Soleimani as making an “illogical leap.”

Callimachi also suggested that both the very hasty preparation for and execution of the strike, which the administration carried out without thoroughly briefing Congress, indicated that Trump may have decided to strike Soleimani at this particular moment partly to distract from the impending impeachment trial in the US Senate.

The upcoming trial will receive significant national attention and subject the president to even more scrutiny as it weighs whether to convict Trump on articles of abusing his office and obstructing Congress.

“No one’s trying to downplay Suleimani’s crimes. The question is why now? His whereabouts have been known before. His resume of killing-by-proxy is not a secret,” she wrote, adding that it was, “hard to decouple his killing from the impeachment saga.”

John Haltiwanger contributed to this report.