'Pretext for war': Trump's New Year's threat sparks concern

Yahoo News Australia and agencies
·4-min read

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused US President Donald Trump of attempting to fabricate a pretext to attack Iran, vowing Tehran would defend itself forcefully.

Separately, a military adviser to Iran's supreme leader warned Trump "not to turn the New Year into mourning for Americans".

Zarif made his accusation on Twitter on Thursday – a platform now synonymous with the US president and his unusual form of international diplomacy.

"Instead of fighting Covid in US, @realDonaldTrump & cohorts waste billions to fly B52s & send armadas to OUR region. Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war," he wrote.

Photo by: zz/KGC-375/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/27/20 Donald Trump signs coronavirus relief and government funding bill into law. STAR MAX File Photo: 6/5/19 World leaders including the heads of state of 16 countries involved in World War II joined dignitaries and military veterans in Portsmouth, England to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion in June of 1944. Attendees included Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Charles The Prince of Wales, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, USA President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Governor-General of New Zealand Patsy Reddy, President of France Emmanuel Macron, President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of The Netherlands Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of The Czech Republic Andrej Babis, Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki, Slovakia DPM Richard Rasi and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau. (Portsmouth, England, UK)
Donald Trump has been accused of plotting to fabricate a pretext for war. Source: AP

The US military has flown nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a show of force to Iran and deployed a nuclear submarine to the Gulf, according to media reports.

The build-up comes as Iran prepares to hold events marking the first anniversary of the killing of military commander General Qassem Soleimani in a US attack in Iraq.

Trump ordered the drone attack on January 3, 2020 to kill the powerful Iranian general while he was in Baghdad and came after rockets were fired at US targets in Iraq.

"Iran doesn't seek war but will OPENLY & DIRECTLY defend its people, security & vital interests," Zarif wrote on Thursday (local time).

Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Twitter he had seen news that "the Americans are on alert for fear of the revenge (over Soleimani's killing) and have flown two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf".

"All their military bases in the region are covered by our missiles. I advise the White House evictee (Trump) not to turn the New Year into mourning for Americans," said Dehghan, a former defence minister.

Bill Kristol, a conservative US political analyst and former chief of staff to former US vice president Dan Quayle, was among those to speculate overnight that Trump could use disproportionate force should tensions continue to escalate.

Trump’s warning days out from anniversary

While Trump has yet to respond to Zarif’s tweet, he warned last week he would hold “Iran responsible” in the event of a fatal attack on Americans in Iraq.

"Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets," Trump said on Twitter, referring to an attack that caused damage but no deaths.

"Guess where they came from: IRAN," he added.

"Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq," he added, before offering "some friendly health advice to Iran: if one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over," he said.

The US leader, in his final weeks in office appears to be sticking to his "maximum pressure" approach toward the Iranian regime.

At a meeting with senior defence officials in November, Trump reportedly asked about options for attacking Iran, increasing concerns among analysts that relations could devolve into serious conflict before the president leaves the White House.

As 2021 approached in the US, Trump shared a video on Twitter of himself boasting of the US’ successes of 2020, particularly regarding what he claims to be a rapid response to developing a vaccine and the nation’s response to the pandemic.

To date, the US has recorded 19,821,487 known cases of Covid-19 and 343,818 deaths, Johns Hopkins University data states.

with wires

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