- Lame duck presidents usually avoid doing anything too provocative in their final days, especially on national security issues. But Donald Trump is anything but typical.
- Trump has issued new threats against Iran following a rocket attack on the US embassy in Baghdad, which the US has accused of Iran-backed militias.
- Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden says he’s not getting full information from the Pentagon.
- It is unclear whether Biden was informed of the situation with Iran, which he will inherit in 27 days.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
President Donald Trump is leaving the White House in less than a month, but you wouldn’t tell by his behavior.
Aside from refusing to concede President-elect Joe Biden, the president has continued to threaten Iran with military action, and his administration has reportedly done so discussed possible answers on the recent rocket attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad, believed to have been carried out by Iranian-backed militias.
Meanwhile, Biden says he’s been blocked by the Pentagon and hasn’t been thoroughly briefed on a number of crucial issues.
After discovering the massive, embarrassing SolarWinds hack, Trump made this claim “Everything is well under control.” Biden said Wednesday that he saw “no evidence” to back it up and suggested that the department had not received any information about the hack. The president-elect said the Department of Defense would “not even tell us about many things”. The Pentagon repressed this claim, describing it as “obviously wrong” in a statement on Wednesday.
It is unclear whether Biden was briefed on the situation with Iran and possible actions by Trump.
The Biden transition team made no comment when contacted by Insider.
Trump seriously warned Iran in his final days in office
Trump has been an inherently unorthodox president since he was sworn in, but his atypical leadership approach has been particularly strong since he lost the election to Biden.
Most lame duck presidents wouldn’t dream of threatening war or military action against an adversary – they usually focus on the final guidelines for their legacy when their staff start updating their peers during the transition – but Trump has himself at all not shy away from it.
In mid-November, Trump is said to have asked top helpers about potential military options against Iran regarding its nuclear program, but was ultimately discouraged by high-level advisers, who warned of the potential of causing major conflict during his final days in office. Iran has violated the provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal, which has steadily collapsed since Trump’s withdrawal in May 2018.
More recently, he has attacked Iran for the attacks on the Baghdad embassy.
“Our embassy in Baghdad was hit by several rockets on Sunday. Three rockets could not be fired. Guess where they come from: IRAN,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Now we’re hearing gossip about additional attacks against Americans in Iraq. Some friendly health advice to Iran: If an American is killed, I will hold Iran accountable. Think about it.”
The attack damaged the embassy premises and killed at least one Iraqi civilian. via NPR.
“The December 20, 2020 missile attack on Iraq’s green zone was almost certainly carried out by an Iran-backed rogue militia group,” said Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command. said in a statement. He added that the 21 rocket attack “was clearly NOT intended to avoid casualties”.
But the chief of central command, General Frank McKenzie, told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that he had no idea “how much Iran is involved in the incident.”
“We’re not looking for a war, and I don’t think they’re looking for one,” McKenzie said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to Trump in a tweet, saying the president had “ruthlessly” accused Iran of being behind the attack. “Trump will bear full responsibility for any adventurism on his way out.” Said Zarif.
“Trump ends the year the way he started it, trying to provoke a catastrophic war.”
Trump’s threats to Iran following the rocket attack in Baghdad came almost a year after ordering a drone strike that killed the country’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, that put Washington and Tehran on the brink of war. The Soleimani assassination was inspired in part by a missile attack in Iraq killed an American contractor End of December 2019.
However, tensions between the US and Iran had previously reached historic heights, largely due to Trump’s controversial decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign to combat the Iranian economy.
A top Iranian scientist was murdered in November. Iran accused Israel of orchestrating the murder. Meanwhile, experts have suggested the US was also involved, saying the assassination was part of Trump’s desire to derail Biden’s ambitions to return to the 2015 deal. Some analysts suggest that Trump could take further action to tie Biden’s hands.
“Kind reminder, before Trump does anything crazy he’ll do to Iran, it’s all his fault,” said Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War. tweeted On Wednesday. “He inherited a working diplomatic nuclear deal and thawed relations, blew it all up to try the ‘maximum pressure’ that predictably failed, and now we’re back.”
Derek Johnson, CEO of the anti-nuclear weapons group Global Zero, in a tweet said“I see Trump ending the year the way he started it, trying to provoke a catastrophic war with Iran.”