Thursday, 16 January, 2020

“Trump ‘flat-out lied’ about justification for assassinating Gen. Soleimani”

Former US Vice President Joe Biden says that President Donald Trump “flat-out lied” about the justification for assassinating Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani.

Trump ordered the drone strikes that targeted Lieutenant General Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) as well as eight other companions on January 3.

The US president told Fox News Friday that “four embassies” would have been targeted had the US not carried out the operation, but failed to provide any details to substantiate his claims.

Speaking at a Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday night, Biden criticized Trump over his remarks, saying, “Quite frankly, I think he’s flat-out lied about saying, the reason he made the strike [on Soleimani] was because our embassies were about to be bombed.”

US officials have made confusing remarks about what prompted Trump to order the assassination.

After the president claimed that the strikes were conducted to prevent an “imminent” attack, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the operation was part of a “bigger strategy of deterrence.”

Pentagon Chief Mark Esper, on the other hand, said he there was “no intelligence forewarning of imminent attacks on embassies,” contradicting Trump.

Even, more recently, Trump and other US officials have pointed to Soleimani’s past actions to justify the strike, without elaborating on what those alleged actions were.

On Monday, the president, in a tweet, alleged any imminent threat Soleimani posed “doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!”

Biden slams Trump over pulling US out of Iran nuclear deal

Biden also criticized the president for pulling the US out of a nuclear deal with Iran, a move which he said alienated Washington’s allies.

“We have lost our standing in the region, we have lost the support of our allies. The next president has to be able to pull those folks back together, reestablish our alliances and insist Iran go back into the agreement.”

In response to the unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments five times, within Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Biden clashes with other candidates over US presence in Middle East 

During the debate, Biden and Senator Amy Klobuchar said they would leave US troops in the Middle East, while other candidates suggested they would withdraw American forces from the region.

“We should stop asking our military to solve problems that cannot be solved militarily,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. “Our keeping combat troops there is not helping.”

The US has nearly 5,000 US troops in Iraq and about 800 in Syria in addition to 14,000 in Afghanistan. Also, around 14,000 more troops have been deployed throughout the Middle East since the summer.

Sen. Bernie Sanders insisted that Americans do not want “endless wars” anymore, noting the conflicts “have cost us trillions of dollars.”

“In America today, our infrastructure is crumbling, half of our people are living paycheck-to-paycheck, 87 million people have no health care or are underinsured, we have 500,000 people sleeping out on the streets tonight,” he said.

Meanwhile, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, suggested that the US should remain engaged in the region “without having an endless commitment of ground troops.”

“The very president who said he was going to end endless war, who pretended to have been against the war in Iraq all along — though we know that’s not true — now has more troops going to the Middle East,” Buttigieg said of Trump.

Warren also said instead of US military presence, Washington should rely on allies and economic tools there.

She also talked about US troops present in Afghanistan, saying, “No one has a solution and an end point.”

“We need to get our combat troops out. They are not helping create more safety for the United States,” Warren added.

The Taliban have been negotiating with the Trump administration for more than a year over the withdrawal of US troops in exchange for security guarantees from the militants.

The negotiations take place almost 18 years after the US invaded Afghanistan and overthrew a ruling Taliban regime.

Having failed to end the Taliban’s militancy, American forces have since remained bogged down in Afghanistan through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now, Donald Trump.

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