When he should be aware that his days in the White House are numbered after his electoral defeat, Donald Trump proposes measures with important repercussions on the security and defense of the country. The Republican last week probed the possibility of attacking Iran over its uranium enrichment program, but was dissuaded by his advisers, according to The New York Times. At the same time, in a new coup, the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that the still president will cut the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan by half on January 15, five days before the presidency.
Almost a week after firing the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, his acting substitute, Christopher Miller, announced on Tuesday the partial withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan on January 15, which will increase from 4,500 soldiers to 2,500 , and a similar number in Iraq. Miller remarked in an intervention at the headquarters of the Department of Defense that the decision did not imply a change in policy and that it was consistent with the strategic objectives of the United States. However, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has immediately spoken out against a hasty exit, which he has described as a "mistake."
Precisely, the differences over the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, one of Trump's electoral promises to which the military and Esper opposed, were one of the reasons for the purge in the civilian branch of the Pentagon. For his part, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Washington on Tuesday of the "high cost" of leaving Afghanistan too soon or in an uncoordinated manner. "We have been in Afghanistan, side by side, for almost 20 years and no ally wants to stay longer than necessary," he assured about a possible withdrawal, making it clear that the decision of the US commander in chief would be a serious mistake.
Trump's final days in the White House promise to be turbulent. According The New York Times, Trump discussed with his advisers the option of attacking Iran. The issue was discussed during a meeting held last Thursday in the Oval Office in which the Vice President, Mike Pence; the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo; Christopher Miller himself; and the Chief of the General Staff, General Mark Milley. They all dismissed the idea and warned the president that a military offensive against Iranian facilities could "easily escalate to a broader conflict" in the final weeks of his presidency and at a time of political uncertainty in the United States.
The meeting took place days after the United Nations, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announced that it had detected an increase in enriched uranium reserves by the Ayatollah regime. The military attack, according to the New York newspaper, could have been carried out with missiles, but it could also have been cybernetic, and the presumed target would be the Iranian nuclear facilities in Natanz, where IAEA inspectors detected reserves of enriched uranium of 2,449 kilos, very above the maximum of 300 kilos established in the nuclear pact signed with the great powers in 2015 and that Washington abandoned in 2018.
Both Pompeo and General Milley left the meeting convinced that aggression was no longer an option and this was confirmed to the newspaper by several sources who asked to remain anonymous. However, according to the newspaper, the president could continue to seek a way to attack Iranian interests and those of his allies, including militias based in Iraq.
The State Department and Homeland Security officials have privately expressed concern that the president may openly or covertly launch operations against Iran or other adversaries as a farewell to the White House.
Tehran's reaction to the possible war plans of the White House has not been long in coming. "Any action against the Iranian people will face a crushing response," said Ali Rabei, spokesman for the Government of Iran. Rabei, a reformist with two decades of political experience, has called the leak "psychological warfare" and considers it unlikely that the United States "wants to cause insecurity in the area and in the world."
The Trump presidency has been marked by anti-Iranian rhetoric. Barely a year after reaching the White House, and despite no evidence of non-compliance by Iran, he withdrew the US from the nuclear agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2015. Since then he has subjected the Asian country to An unprecedented cascade of economic sanctions, he was about to bombard him a year ago and assassinated Qasem Soleimani, his most charismatic general, last January.
It has never been clear whether the goal was to renegotiate the agreement or to spark protests that would end the Islamic regime. The response of the Tehran regime was to return to producing higher purity uranium last year, violating the nuclear agreement after Washington's withdrawal, and to pressure European partners, although without reaching the limits that would allow it to manufacture an atomic bomb. While also insisting on the peaceful nature of his program.
Yet the mere fact that the US president has once again contemplated an attack on Iran fuels Iran's rivals. "If I were Iranian, I would not be calm," said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. After specifying that he was not aware of the deliberations in this regard, he has played with the ambiguity, implying that, if their uranium enrichment is close to military grade, “it is likely that they will face the military might of the United States and also, perhaps , from other countries".
The reference is not abstract. Just last week, it was leaked that Israeli agents had killed in Tehran number two of Al Qaeda, apparently commissioned by Washington. Although Israel has never acknowledged it, it is not the first time it has been associated with assassinations or sabotage within the Islamic Republic. The hard line of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu towards Iran has undoubtedly been an important element in the rapprochement of the Persian Gulf monarchies with Israel.
Following Joe Biden's electoral victory, Tehran's neighbors have stepped up their warnings. King Salman of Saudi Arabia has called on the international community to take "a decisive attitude against Iran and its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction and develop a ballistic missile program."
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