President Donald Trump took to Twitter late Tuesday to assure Americans that “all is well,” following an attack by Iran.
In two waves, Iran fired up to 15 ballistic missiles at U.S. military forces and coalition forces in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike over the weekend that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
A strike that appears to be more about saving face than inflicting casualties.
Ten missiles hit the remote Al-Assad Air Base, one missile hit a military base in Erbil and four missiles failed to strike their targets, according to a U.S. military spokesman for Central Command, Fox News reported.
Promising to address the nation Wednesday morning, the president said on Twitter that there appeared to be no American casualties from the attack.
“All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq,” Trump tweeted. “Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020
Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif posted his own tweet just before Trump tweeted, citing the UN Charter to characterize the attack as “self-defense,” and claiming that Iran is not seeking escalation — in response to an attack that constitutes a major escalation.
“Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched,” Zarif said. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.
We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 8, 2020
The keyword being “concluded,” as Zarif signaled that there will be no more strikes unless the U.S retaliates.
Michael Pregent, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a terrorism expert, cited initial reports showing that the Iranian missile attacks on two joint U.S.-Iraqi military bases didn’t kill or injure any Americans to say this “appears to have been a deliberate move by Iran to avoid a retaliatory strike by U.S. forces.”
In a Fox News editorial, Pregent said that Tehran had to strike back in some way after the U.S. drone attack that killed the Iranian terrorist general.
“But the leaders of the Iranian regime are smart enough to know that if they had killed Americans in their retaliatory attack, Trump would have responded with deadly force,” he wrote.
Citing the message from Zarif, Pregent said Iran “called on the U.S. not to retaliate,” adding it was “a clear indication that Iran wants to avoid further military conflict with the far more powerful American forces.”
“The lesson here is that despite Iran’s tough talk and threats, it fears the power of the U.S. and doesn’t want a military confrontation with America that could lead to a U.S. invasion – the fate that befell its neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan,” Pregent wrote. “In fact, the U.S. killing of Soleimani was such a severe blow to the Iranian regime that it may be the de-escalation event we were looking for to ratchet down tensions with Iran.”
Former Delta Force Commander General Jerry Boykin appeared on Fox News to say Iran’s capabilities are “much better” than what was seen in the attack.
“I think it’s entirely feasible that they had no intentions of harming Americans,” he said. “I think this was propaganda — they’re going to get a lot of propaganda out of this back in Tehran.”
Boykin predicted we will see a “rapid de-escalation” from Iran, though there will likely be future terrorist attacks.
Tony Tata, a former brigadier general in the United States Army, also said the missile attacks might have been orchestrated to miss the intended targets.
“The Iranian response might have been an intentional miss with 15 ballistic missiles not harming any U.S. soldiers,” Tata said, according to WECT news. “If this is true, it would allow Iran to save face by insisting internally that they took action.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a former Navy SEAL deployed five times to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recipient of two Bronze Stars, agreed that Iran was merely trying to “save face” with the missile attacks.
“Tonight Iran did as expected: attempt to save face and continue their attacks,” he tweeted. “No known casualties at this time. Make no mistake, if needed, we will hit back. They know that. This is a time for national fortitude and unity for the sake of our men and women in harm’s way.”
Tonight Iran did as expected: attempt to save face and continue their attacks. No known casualties at this time.
Make no mistake, if needed, we will hit back. They know that.
This is a time for national fortitude and unity for the sake of our men and women in harm’s way.
— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) January 8, 2020
In fact, Iran reportedly issued a warning BEFORE the missile attack that a strike was coming, informing Iraqi officials, who alerted military leaders “to take the necessary precautions.”
JUST IN: Iraq received "an official verbal message" from Iran before the missile attacks, according to a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi https://t.co/Hanrek0j0U
— CNN (@CNN) January 8, 2020
In an interview this week with Foreign Policy, retired Gen. David Petraeus, a former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and a former CIA director, called Trump’s call to kill Soleimani — who had the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands — “a very significant effort to reestablish deterrence.”
Petraeus also suggested that because the Persian Gulf country is “in a very precarious economic situation, it is very fragile domestically,” Iran’s supreme leader was limited in any potential responses.
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