President Donald Trump on Sunday doubled down on his threat to destroy sites “important to Iran and Iranian culture” if Iran retaliates over the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.
“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told the press on Air Force one according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way,” POTUS SAID.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 6, 2020
Trump, who in the past has said he wants to leave the Middle East entirely but is only staying there for Israel, said Sunday that the US will not leave Iraq unless they “pay us back” for an expensive air base we built up to permanently occupy the region.
TRUMP ON IRAQ: “We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
— LIVE Breaking News (@NewsBreaking) January 6, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to try and walk back Trump’s threat to hit “cultural” sites earlier in the day by insisting that “every target that we strike will be a lawful target.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Geneva Conventions outlaws attacks on cultural objects & places of worship. Why is Trump threatening Iran w/ war crimes?
POMPEO: We’ll behave lawfully
S: So to be clear, Trump’s threat wasn’t accurate?
P: Every target that we strike will be a lawful target pic.twitter.com/zOGTpfYmba
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 5, 2020
The threat seems to have backfired with the Iraqi parliament voting to move forward with expelling U.S. forces from their county entirely.
Trump has done in the last 48 hrs what it would’ve cost the Islamic Republic millions 💰 in media messaging to hope to do:
1) Rally transnat’l Shia community w killings of Soleimani & al-Muhandis
2) Rally nearly all Iranians, whether they support regime or not, w this tweet https://t.co/5ben5dL1p1
— Narges Bajoghli (@nargesbajoghli) January 5, 2020
The turnout for Soleimani’s funeral was quite large.
Trump late Sunday threatened to put “very big” sanctions on Iraq if they go through with their plan to expel US troops.
While Trump and Pompeo have claimed repeatedly they don’t want to “start a war,” they’ve been sending thousands upon thousands of troops to the Middle East over the past several months.
Also Read: Iranians Flood Twitter With Photos of Favorite Cultural Sites as Trump Threatens Destruction
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