Trump is claiming victory over Iran, but his escalation has alienated allies, hurt US-Iraq relations, provoked Iran to leave the nuclear deal, and jeopardized efforts against ISIS
- President Donald Trump claimed victory over Iran on Wednesday after taking the US to the brink of war by ordering the assassination of Iran's Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
- Following Trump's speech, several media figures and pundits lauded the president for what they said was a de-escalation of the conflict with Iran.
- But they ignored the fact that Trump's own actions prompted US-Iran tensions to go from hot to boiling in a matter of days.
- By taking out Soleimani, Trump isolated himself on the world stage, prompted Iran to pull out of a landmark deal to limit its nuclear power, jeopardized the US's relationship with Iraq, and froze efforts to combat ISIS.
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President Donald Trump claimed victory over Iran on Wednesday after taking the US to the brink of war by ordering the assassination of Iran's top military general, Qassem Soleimani.Flanked by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Vice President Mike Pence, Trump confirmed that an Iranian missile attack on US forces late Tuesday did not result in any American casualties and said Iran "appears to be standing down."
"I'm pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime," Trump said. He added that there was only minimal damage to the installations.Following Trump's speech, a host of right-wing media figures and pundits lauded the president for what they said was his de-escalation of the conflict with Iran. A "straight news" anchor on Fox suggested those who've criticized Trump's escalation with Iran are "deranged."
"There's this sense that the president doesn't get credit when something goes right," Fox host Bret Baier said Wednesday. "You wonder whether Trump derangement syndrome factors in to some of the responses you hear here in Washington."But they seemed to ignore the fact that Trump's own actions were what prompted tensions between the US and Iran to go from hot to boiling in a matter of days.
Allies abandon the US over Trump's decisionTrump's decision to order Soleimani's assassination was almost universally condemned after it was publicly announced.
Among the first to react was the United Kingdom, historically the United States' closest ally.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said in a statement on Friday that conflict with Iran "is in none of our interests" and urged "all parties to de-escalate."Other UK leaders also criticized the US for not consulting it before carrying out the strike.
Tom Tugendhat, Raab's Conservative Party colleague and the chair of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told the BBC that "the purpose of having allies is that we can surprise our enemies and not each other."
He added that "it's been a pattern, sadly, which has been a bit of a shame, that the US administration of late has not shared with us and that is a matter of concern."
She added, according to The Guardian, that "at European level, we have to work in collective multilateral frameworks and prevent the powers, one against the other, from playing their game in an unpredictable manner."Although Germany blamed Iran for engaging in "military provocations" that resulted in the US's strike on Soleimani, a spokesperson for the German government warned against any further conflict, telling reporters, "We stand before a dangerous escalation," according to Reuters.
Iran pulls out of a landmark nuclear deal
On Sunday, in direct response to Trump's strike, Iran officially withdrew from the landmark 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.The deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, had been crumbling ever since Trump withdrew the US from it in May 2018. Trump's decision to pull the US from the nuclear deal is widely viewed as the catalyst for a series of escalatory events that raised fears of a potential war.Iran complied with the JCPOA for roughly a year after Trump pulled the US from it, but began withdrawing from the agreement as Trump carried out a "maximum pressure campaign" that included throttling Iran with harsh economic sanctions.
Soleimani's assassination was the last straw.
Trump, for his part, doesn't appear to be moving toward a more conciliatory stance. In fact, he said on Wednesday that the US will impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran, adding that the days of tolerating Iran's behavior "are over."
A blow to the fight against ISISTrump's escalation with Iran is also a blow to the efforts to contain and defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The strike forced the US-led coalition to freeze its efforts against ISIS and undermined Iran's fight against ISIS, which was led by Soleimani.
The coalition forces, which were working with Iraqi forces to fight back against thousands of ISIS fighters, were forced to pause its operations in order to protect themselves from possible attacks in the wake of US strike.
While coalition forces managed in 2019 to reclaim all of the territory ISIS formerly occupied in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group still has thousands of fighters in the region. Trump repeated his false claim that ISIS has been "100%" eradicated during his address to the nation on Wednesday.Some experts fear the already decreased US presence in Iraq and Syria and increasing tensions with Iran could help ISIS resurge.
Undermining the US's relationship with IraqTrump's strike, which also killed a powerful Iraqi militia leader, has infuriated the Iraqi government and many of its people. The escalation could threaten the US's relationship with Iraq, where the US currently has almost 5,000 troops fighting ISIS and training the Iraqi military.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called the strike that killed Soleimani and a top Iraqi militia leader, among others, "an outrageous breach to Iraqi sovereignty" and "a clear breach of the terms of the American forces' presence."On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel the US military from the country as members chanted "Death to America." The resolution, also supported by the outgoing prime minister, was nonbinding, but it illustrates the depth of Iraqi anger at the US amid its escalation.
The vote infuriated Trump, who responded by threatening sanctions "like they've never seen before ever" and said Iraq would have to "pay us back" for the military bases the US constructed in the country.On Monday, the US Defense Department accidentally sent a letter to the Iraqi government informing it that the US would withdraw its troops from the country. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley said the "draft" letter wasn't meant to be sent and the episode was an "honest mistake"
"There's been no decision made to leave Iraq, period," Esper said after news of the letter broke. "There is no decision to leave, nor did we issue any plans to leave."
Adam Bienkov contributed reporting.
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