The Trump administration is already in danger of losing control of the swift chain reaction and political storm unleashed by its killing of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani.
President Donald Trump’s claim that the drone strike last week made Americans safer is being challenged by cascading events that appear to leave the US more vulnerable and isolated.
The administration’s basis for the attack also came under renewed suspicion after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that it was not “relevant” for him to reveal how imminent the attacks on US interests were that Trump said Soleimani was planning.
In proliferating signs of the deepening crisis, Iran on Sunday announced that it was shaking off restrictions on its uranium enrichment under the Obama-era nuclear deal. Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US troops. A US exit could imperil its fight against extremism and consolidate Iranian influence in Baghdad. Dissent emerged inside the administration over the President’s vow to strike cultural sites — or civilian targets — if Iran mounts reprisal strikes. Administration claims that the elimination of Soleimani, Iran’s Middle East terror chief, sparked celebration in Iran were confounded by Tehran’s orchestrating of Soleimani’s funeral rites to launch a propaganda campaign to heal national divides.
Washington’s European allies, meanwhile, distanced themselves from Trump’s assault. The US-led ISIS coalition temporarily stopped action against the terror group to protect Iraqi bases from Iranian-backed militias. And in a new sign of widening gaps between Iraq and the US, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said he had been scheduled to meet Soleimani on the day he was killed to discuss an initiative to ease Iran-Saudi tensions.