Aarti Tikoo Singh
New Delhi/Washington DC, Jan 4 (IANS) US President Donald Trump gave approval to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Major General Qassem Soleimani at the last minute while he was on a vacation at his resort in Florida.
As per a detailed report published by Washington Post, the US President took the decision for reasons contrary to what the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed. Pompeo on Friday told the US media that Soleimani was killed because he had been “actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent.”
The US newspaper claimed that Soleimani was killed only to “shock Iran’s decision calculus” and “deter” Soleimani’s future attacks against America. Quoting several defence and administration officials, Washington Post said the President took the call on Soleimani while he was on his second week of vacation at Mar-a-Lago resort at Florida, and that too only a short while before the airstrike in Baghdad.
Trump, Washington Post said, was informed at his resort that Soleimani was visiting Baghdad only to “taunt” the US “implying he could move around with impunity in the Iraqi capital.
“Calls between the national security principals were convened by the Vice President throughout the week after initial discussions on Sunday to kill Soleimani,” the post said quoting an official.
Officials reminded Trump that after the Iranians mined ships, downed a US drone and allegedly attacked a Saudi oil facility, he hadn’t responded. Acting now, they said, would send a message: “The argument is, if you don’t ever respond to them, they think they can get by with anything.”
Trump was also motivated to act by what he felt was negative coverage over his decision to call off the airstrike after Iran downed a US surveillance drone last year.
According to officials that Washington Post spoke to, Trump also compared himself to his predecessor Barack Obama who was blamed and seen as a failure following the 2012 Benghazi attack in which the US ambassador, foreign and CIA officials were killed.
The President “felt the response to this week’s attack on the embassy and the killing of an American contractor (in Iraq) would make him look stronger compared with his predecessor,” the report said. “Killing of the contractor really changed the equation,” one of the officials told Washington Post.
Piecing together the sequence of events, the Washington Post said, the US tracked Soleimani’s movements for several days, keeping Trump apprised, and decided that their best opportunity to kill him would be in Baghdad.
“He ultimately gave the final approval just before the strike, a senior administration official said, making the call from his golf resort,” it wrote.