- Lame presidents generally avoid doing anything too provocative in their final days, especially in relation to national security. But Donald Trump is anything but typical.
- Trump made new threats against Iran following a rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which the U.S. attributed to Iran-backed militias.
- Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden says he is not receiving comprehensive information from the Pentagon.
- It is not clear whether Biden was informed about the situation with Iran, which he inherits in 27 days.
- Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.
President Donald Trump will leave the White House in less than a month, but you wouldn’t know that from his behavior.
In addition to refusing to give in to President-elect Joe Biden, the president continued to threaten Iran with military action and his government reportedly discussed possible responses to the recent rocket attacks on the United States embassy in Baghdad, allegedly carried out by Iran-backed militias. .
Meanwhile, Biden says he is being blocked by the Pentagon and has not been thoroughly informed about a number of crucial issues.
In the wake of the discovery of the huge and embarrassing SolarWinds hack, Trump stated that “everything is well under control.” Biden said on Wednesday that he saw “no evidence” to support this and suggested that the department did not provide information about the hack. The president-elect said the Department of Defense “doesn’t even tell us about many things”. The Pentagon countered this statement, describing it as “patently false” in a statement on Wednesday.
It is unclear whether Biden was informed about the situation with Iran and any potential actions Trump could take.
The Biden transition team did not comment when contacted by Insider.
Trump issued a serious warning to Iran during his last days in office
Trump has been an inherently unorthodox president since the time he took office, but his atypical approach to leadership has been especially strict since he lost the election to Biden.
Most lame presidents would not dream of threatening war or military action against an opponent – usually focusing on the final policies of their legacy as their teams begin to update their counterparts during the transition – but Trump has not shied away from anything.
In mid-November, Trump reportedly asked top advisers for possible military options against Iran over his nuclear program, but was eventually dismissed by senior advisers who warned of the potential to spark a broader conflict during his final days in office. Iran violated the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, which has steadily collapsed since Trump withdrew from it in May 2018.
Most recently, he attacked Iran because of the attacks on the Baghdad embassy.
“Our embassy in Baghdad was hit on Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets were not launched. Guess where they were from: IRAN,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Now we hear rumors of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq. Some health advice friendly to Iran: if an American is killed, I will hold Iran accountable. Think about it.”
The attack damaged the embassy complex and killed at least one Iraqi civilian, by NPR.
“The December 20, 2020 rocket attack in Iraq’s green zone was almost certainly conducted by an Iranian-backed rebel militia group,” Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, said in a statement. He added that the 21 rocket attack “clearly was NOT intended to prevent casualties”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explicitly blamed the “Iran-backed militias”. The United States is now considering closing the embassy in Iraq, Axios reported.
But Central Command chief, General Frank McKenzie, earlier this week, also told the Wall Street Journal that he does not know “to what extent Iran is complicit” in the incident.
“We are not looking for a war and I don’t believe they are looking for it,” said McKenzie.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to Trump in a tweet, saying the president had “recklessly” accused Iran of being behind the attack. “Trump will have full responsibility for any adventurism on his way out,” Said Zarif.
‘Trump is ending the year as he started, trying to provoke a disastrous war’
Trump’s threats to Iran after the rocket attack in Baghdad came almost a year after he ordered a drone attack that killed the country’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, who pushed Washington and Tehran to the brink of war. Soleimani’s murder was partly inspired by a rocket attack in Iraq that killed an American contractor in late December 2019.
But tensions between the US and Iran had reached historic heights before that, largely due to Trump’s controversial decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and impose sanctions again as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign to destroy the Iranian economy.
In November, a leading Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated. Iran accused Israel of orchestrating the murder. Meanwhile, experts have suggested that the U.S. was also involved, saying the murder was part of Trump’s desire to derail Biden’s ambitions to return to the 2015 deal. Some analysts suspect that Trump may take further steps to tie Biden’s hands .
“Friendly reminder before Trump does anything crazy he’s about to do to Iran, this is all his fault,” Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War, tweeted on Wednesday. “He inherited a functioning diplomatic nuclear deal and thawed relations, blew everything up to try ‘maximum pressure’, which predictably failed, and now here we are again.”
Derek Johnson, CEO of the Global Zero anti-nuclear weapons group, in a tweet said, “I see that Trump is ending the year as he started it, trying to provoke a disastrous war with Iran.”