The killing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force commander during an airstrike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad followed rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, in part spurred by Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.
The deal was originally seen as a major diplomatic achievement by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
According to The Post’s sources, another motivation for Trump to launch the airstrike against Soleimani was so he would appear stronger than Obama.
The president allegedly felt further decisive action could help cement his reputation following the quick response to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on January 31, 2019, as well as the airstrikes launched against fighters loyal to Shiite Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah after a U.S. civilian defense contractor was killed during a rocket attack in Kirkuk.
The Obama administration was heavily criticized over the 2012 Benghazi attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya which killed four Americans, including then-Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.
The attack was initially described as a protest before later proven to be a terrorist incident. It has long been used as an example of Obama failing to treat terrorism as a real threat during his time in the White House.
According to Sen. Lindsey Graham, Benghazi had “loomed large” in the president’s mind when deciding on a response to Iran, reports The Post.
Trump has spoken publicly about his reasons for launching the airstrike to kill Soleimani, claiming the military commander was planning an imminent attack against the U.S., without elaborating.
“Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel but we caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump told reporters. “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”
Trump is now facing calls to release more information about the alleged plot to attack Americans.
“I believe there was a threat, but the question of how imminent is still one I want answered,” Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Reuters.
The White House has been contacted for comment.
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