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President Donald Trump announced he would make an announcement regarding Iran on Wednesday morning after the Islamic Republic launched missiles at a military base housing U.S. troops Tuesday evening. Despite the attack, the president delivered good news.
“All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!” the president tweeted. “We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!”
Then he teased, “I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had vowed “severe revenge” against the U.S. after Trump ordered the airstrike that killed notorious Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani.
The strike on Soleimani did not come out of a vacuum. The Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kata’ib Hezbollah began escalating tensions with a rocket attack on a U.S.-led coalition base on December 27. That attack killed a U.S. contractor and left many American and Iraqi personnel wounded. According to the Pentagon, Soleimani ordered that attack.
In response, America launched airstrikes against the militia, killing 25 militiamen. In retaliation, the militiamen stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, invading American soil. The Pentagon claimed that Soleimani “approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.”
Killing Soleimani was a powerful response to the embassy attack, an attack that arguably constituted an act of war.
According to the Pentagon, “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”
Last Friday, President Trump insisted that the strike on Soleimani involved action to prevent a war, not to start one.
“We took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war,” he said at the time. “I have deep respect for the Iranian people, they are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change, however the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end and it must end now.”
It seems unlikely Trump will declare war tomorrow, but the Iran missile strikes directly targeted American troops. The U.S. has arguably been in a state of hostilities with Iran since the American Embassy in Tehran was besieged in 1979. Even so, the president would likely ask Congress for a formal declaration of war if that were his intention.