President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. airstrike that killed one among Iran’s most powerful generals and sent global markets reeling in response to the threat of an “imminent attack,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Friday.
Pompeo wouldn’t provide details about the threat aside from to mention it had been confined to the center East which justified the airstrike. Iran’s Supreme Leader quickly threatened “severe retaliation” in response. The U.S. State Department has issued a directive urging Americans to go away Iraq immediately thanks to the tensions.
Oil futures in London and NY at one point surged by quite 4%, gold hit the very best in four months, 10-year Treasury yields headed for the most important drop by three weeks and stocks and U.S. equity futures slid.
Qassem Soleimani, who led proxy militias that extended Iran’s power across the center East, was killed during a strike in Baghdad authorized by Trump, the Department of Defense said during a statement late Thursday. Trump, who is staying at Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, said on Twitter Friday that “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” and therefore the U.S. embassy in Baghdad urged its citizens to go away the country.
“We don’t seek war with Iran,” Pompeo said in an interview on Fox Friday morning. “But we, at an equivalent time, aren’t getting to stand by and watch the Iranians escalate and still put American lives in danger without responding during a way that disrupts, defends, deters and creates a chance to de-escalate things .”
“At the direction of the president, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to guard U.S. personnel abroad by killing” Soleimani, the Pentagon said. “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and repair members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Pompeo said the choice to strike was supported intelligence collection which the attack “saved American lives.”
The death of Soleimani, who led the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, fueled concerns that the U.S. and Iran might be drawn into an armed confrontation that would easily pull in other countries. The pressures, which are building for months, are complicated by widespread protests in Iraq and Iran.
“Qassem Soleimani embodied Iran’s extraterritorial activism within the Middle East,” said Asif Shuja, a senior research fellow at Singapore’s Middle East Institute. “His assassination is thus sure to be a turning point.”
Iran’s top leaders all condemned the attack and vowed to hit back while secretary of state Javad Zarif denounced the killing on Twitter as “an act of terrorism .” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is thanks to attending an emergency meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for the primary time, the state-owned Hamshahri newspaper reported. He vowed to avenge Soleimani’s killing.
“A severe retaliation awaits murderers who have the blood of Soleimani which of other martyrs on their wicked hands from last night’s incident,” Khamenei said during a statement.
The Iranian leadership is signaling that it’ll likely target U.S. military installations and bases within the Middle East and mobilize its network of militias across the region. One official told the state broadcaster that some 36 U.S. military bases and facilities are accessible to Iran’s defense forces, with the closest being in Bahrain. A spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards said the assassination marked the beginning of a “new phase” within the activities of Iran’s “resistance forces” throughout the region.
A September attack on Saudi oil facilities — that Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility — highlighted the potential impact of Tehran’s response.
Trump’s European allies urged the president to seek out how to ease the tensions with Tehran and warned of the risks that a cycle of retaliation would spiral out of control.
French President Emmanuel Macron is chatting with his counterparts within the Middle East in an attempt to stop things spiraling out of control, European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said on RTL radio. “This is what we feared,” she said. “It’s a continuation of the escalation that’s been happening over recent months.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said the U.S. had been provoked by Iran and urged all sides to scale back the tensions.