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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 202)

Iran Faces Tough Questions At Home And Abroad After It Admits To Downing Plane

Westlake Legal Group 5e1a2dea2400003300527ba0 Iran Faces Tough Questions At Home And Abroad After It Admits To Downing Plane

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s acknowledgement that it shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing 176 people, raises new challenges for the Islamic Republic both externally amid tensions with the U.S. and internally as it deals with growing discontent from its people.

The country did itself no favors by having its air-crash investigators, government officials and diplomats deny for days that a missile downed the flight, though a commander said Saturday that he had raised that possibility to his superiors as early as Wednesday, the day of the crash.

While its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard took responsibility, the same commander claimed it warned Tehran to close off its airspace amid fears of U.S. retaliation over Iran launching ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces. That retaliation never came, but the worries proved to be enough to allegedly scare a missile battery into opening fire on the Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines.

Wider tensions between Iran and the U.S., inflamed after Iran’s top general was killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike Jan. 3, have for the moment calmed. However, President Donald Trump vowed to impose new sanctions on Tehran and on Friday, his administration targeted Iran’s metals industry, a major employer. Meanwhile, thousands of additional U.S. forces remain in the Mideast atop of the network of American bases surrounding Iran, despite Tehran’s demands the U.S. leave the region.

That sets the stage for Iran’s further steps away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from in May 2018 over his concerns it didn’t go far enough in restraining Tehran. Iran said after the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani that it would no longer abide by any of its limits, while saying United Nations inspectors could continue their work.

Further steps could spark an Israeli strike if it feels Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon, something Tehran denies it wants but the West fears could happen.

Iran through Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has sought to offer legal justifications for its decisions following Soleimani’s death, including missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops that caused no casualties. Now the country must contend with repercussions of its officials’ wrongheaded denials in the days after the plane crash.

“There has been no missile launched in that area at that time,” said Hamid Baeidinejad, Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom, in an interview Friday with Sky News, calling further questions on the allegation “absolutely unacceptable.”

Then the story changed early Saturday morning, with Iran’s general staff of its armed forces saying the flight had been “targeted unintentionally due to human error.”

Baeidinejad later apologized on Twitter.

“In my statement yesterday to the UK media, I conveyed the official findings of responsible authorities in my country that missile could not be fired and hit the Ukrainian plane at that period of time,” he wrote. “I … regret for conveying such wrong findings.”

Ultimately, the Guard answers solely to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But Khamenei himself only Saturday acknowledged the missile strike, citing the report by Iran’s conventional armed forces.

Yet even the army statement itself raises questions, as it said the flight moved “very close to a sensitive military spot” belonging to the Guard.

“The altitude and the direction of the flight’s movement were like an enemy target, so the aircraft was targeted unintentionally due to human error,” the statement read.

That’s despite flight data for every Ukrainian International Airlines flight out of Tehran since early November show Wednesday’s flight followed a similar altitude and flight path, according to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24. Planes leaving Imam Khomeini airport routinely take off going west as the Ukrainian flight did.

Nine other flights flew out of the airport early Wednesday morning before the Ukrainian airliner as well without encountering trouble. The Guard claims it asked Iranian authorities to shut down airspace in Tehran amid the ballistic missile strikes and fears of reprisals, but nothing happened.

Analysts have questioned the decision not to close Tehran’s airspace in the days after the shootdown.

“The first thing a country should do in case of escalation of the military conflict is to close the sky for civilian flights,” said retired Ukrainian Gen. Ihor Romanenko, a military analyst. “But this entails serious financial losses, fines and forfeits, therefore a cynical approach prevailed in Iran.”

The Guard has wide autonomy in Iran. It prides itself on its aggressive posture, whether having tense encounters with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf or shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone last summer. Concerns about that aggression saw the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reissue a warning about flying over Iran just days before the shootdown, warning that “misidentification” remained a risk.

That Iran’s conventional military — long limited in the years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution by purges and obsolete equipment — issued the report shows the rivalries between the services. The Guard’s own position could be challenged, though it maintains a strong grip on Iran’s security and economic sectors.

The U.S. did not retaliate the night of the ballistic missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. However, that has not stopped Iranian officials like Zarif and others who sought to try to blame “U.S. adventurism” for Iran shooting down the airplane.

That may not fly with the Iranian public, already battered by economic sanctions and openly protesting in recent protests. Saturday night, hundreds gathered at universities in Tehran to protest the government’s late acknowledgement of the plane being shot down. They demanded officials involved in the missile attack be removed from their positions and tried. Police broke up the demonstrations.

Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year

Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6064462166001_6064469737001-vs Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year Mike Novotny fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc f31e76ea-1ada-548f-850f-c07b4c2edd81 article

The year 2020, it appears, is the year of fear.

As I write these words, there’s no emotion that seems to have gripped more hearts than fear. Despite all the things we might be afraid of (nuclear war, school shootings, national debt, rising suicide rates), what seems to be chattering more teeth than ever is the election.

It doesn’t matter whom you are for or against, what party you support or oppose, or what political animal is most likely to be bumper-stickered to your vehicle; people are afraid.

2020 IS THE ‘YEAR OF THE BIBLE’ FOR MANY CHRISTIANS

Republicans are afraid of the possible implications of President Trump’s impeachment, afraid of a Democratic sweep in November, afraid of being swept away in a sexual revolution, afraid of a liberal-leaning Supreme Court, afraid of the changing/trampling of religious liberties, afraid of short-term social solutions that leave America in long-term financial peril, and _________ (fill in the blank with the latest conservative fear).

More from Opinion

Democrats are afraid of President Trump’s triumph over impeachment, afraid frustrated Americans will punish the left for the recent political partisanship, afraid of four more years of presidential tweets, afraid of a conservative-leaning Supreme Court, afraid of the changing/trampling of human dignity, afraid of short-term financial solutions that leave America in long-term social pain, and ___________. (You get the point.)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE OPINION NEWSLETTER

How about you? Are you afraid for our future?

Although I’m not as deeply political as some of my family members and friends, I will confess that I find some of the headlines unnerving. It’s hard to know whose opinion piece to believe these days, but everyone seems to be predicting a grim future if ________ stays in/loses power.

I think that’s why I adore the three words that changed my life (and led me to write an entire book).

That may sound like a sophomoric marketing pitch, but it isn’t. These three words honestly make a massive difference in my life when fear sits on the throne of my heart and rules over my feelings for my children’s future.

What are those three words? I’m glad you asked!

Word #1: GOD

The first, and most vital, word to conquer your election-year fear is GOD. Not a generic, run-of-the-mill god. Not even an officially approved, technically orthodox God. No, I’m thinking of a glorious, box-breaking, entirely enough GOD. The GOD so full of light that the ghouls of fear whimper and hide from his presence. The GOD so full of strength that he makes the strongest fear look as weak as my seventh grade self (think biceps as thin as straws). The GOD so full of wisdom and ability that he can take any political mess and use it for the good of his people.

And, yes, the word any from the previous sentence includes the mess that makes you afraid.

This GOD is better than your handpicked president. Better than a Congress that unanimously agrees with your convictions. Better than a debt-free America where everyone is safe and medically cared for.

Allow this basic logic to persuade your heart. Whatever you want/wish for/pray for politically is less than nothing next to GOD.

Word #2: Is

The GOD you just imagined is presently present. He is not the “I Was” of the past or the “I Will Be” once you’re in a better place. No, he is the great “I AM,” our “ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The phrase “ever-present” means that GOD will be present whenever _______ happens. There is no shift in culture, no partisan legislation, and no political power swing that can undo the present presence of GOD.

David, the shepherd/king of biblical times, lived under the terrifying reign of King Saul (where hostile tweets were the least of his problems) and then through the ugly uprising of his own ambitious son Absalom (who used shady marketing to win over the voters), yet he penned these famous words: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me … You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:4,5).

David was not afraid, even in the dark valleys where his political enemies plotted and planned. Why not? “For you [GOD] are with me.” If this stunning GOD always “is,” then there is no reason to be afraid.

Word #3: Here

The GOD who takes away fear is not over “there” with them, but instead right “here” with you. If you’ve turned from your sin and trusted in GOD’s Son, Jesus, then “GOD is here” is your daily reality. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

Nothing in 2020 has the power to shove GOD away from your side. An impeachment is impotent in that regard. Elections are unable to evict our King from the throne of your heart. Supreme courts and border policies have no say where GOD goes.

Brother or sister, that means that GOD is here. No matter what. No matter who. No matter when.

Those are the three words that can change your election-year fear.

Still struggling? Can I suggest reading the psalms, all 150 of them, before election night? Study how real the enemies of the ancient world were, how much fear they injected into the hearts of GOD’s people, and (most vitally) how David and friends knew exactly where to run to find peace — the refuge of GOD’s presence.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

They couldn’t control the political future. Neither can you. But every Christian can breathe deeply, find lasting peace, and rejoice at the reality that GOD is here.

Even during an election year.

Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6064462166001_6064469737001-vs Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year Mike Novotny fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc f31e76ea-1ada-548f-850f-c07b4c2edd81 article   Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6064462166001_6064469737001-vs Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year Mike Novotny fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc f31e76ea-1ada-548f-850f-c07b4c2edd81 article

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year

Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6064462166001_6064469737001-vs Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year Mike Novotny fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc f31e76ea-1ada-548f-850f-c07b4c2edd81 article

The year 2020, it appears, is the year of fear.

As I write these words, there’s no emotion that seems to have gripped more hearts than fear. Despite all the things we might be afraid of (nuclear war, school shootings, national debt, rising suicide rates), what seems to be chattering more teeth than ever is the election.

It doesn’t matter whom you are for or against, what party you support or oppose, or what political animal is most likely to be bumper-stickered to your vehicle; people are afraid.

2020 IS THE ‘YEAR OF THE BIBLE’ FOR MANY CHRISTIANS

Republicans are afraid of the possible implications of President Trump’s impeachment, afraid of a Democratic sweep in November, afraid of being swept away in a sexual revolution, afraid of a liberal-leaning Supreme Court, afraid of the changing/trampling of religious liberties, afraid of short-term social solutions that leave America in long-term financial peril, and _________ (fill in the blank with the latest conservative fear).

More from Opinion

Democrats are afraid of President Trump’s triumph over impeachment, afraid frustrated Americans will punish the left for the recent political partisanship, afraid of four more years of presidential tweets, afraid of a conservative-leaning Supreme Court, afraid of the changing/trampling of human dignity, afraid of short-term financial solutions that leave America in long-term social pain, and ___________. (You get the point.)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE OPINION NEWSLETTER

How about you? Are you afraid for our future?

Although I’m not as deeply political as some of my family members and friends, I will confess that I find some of the headlines unnerving. It’s hard to know whose opinion piece to believe these days, but everyone seems to be predicting a grim future if ________ stays in/loses power.

I think that’s why I adore the three words that changed my life (and led me to write an entire book).

That may sound like a sophomoric marketing pitch, but it isn’t. These three words honestly make a massive difference in my life when fear sits on the throne of my heart and rules over my feelings for my children’s future.

What are those three words? I’m glad you asked!

Word #1: GOD

The first, and most vital, word to conquer your election-year fear is GOD. Not a generic, run-of-the-mill god. Not even an officially approved, technically orthodox God. No, I’m thinking of a glorious, box-breaking, entirely enough GOD. The GOD so full of light that the ghouls of fear whimper and hide from his presence. The GOD so full of strength that he makes the strongest fear look as weak as my seventh grade self (think biceps as thin as straws). The GOD so full of wisdom and ability that he can take any political mess and use it for the good of his people.

And, yes, the word any from the previous sentence includes the mess that makes you afraid.

This GOD is better than your handpicked president. Better than a Congress that unanimously agrees with your convictions. Better than a debt-free America where everyone is safe and medically cared for.

Allow this basic logic to persuade your heart. Whatever you want/wish for/pray for politically is less than nothing next to GOD.

Word #2: Is

The GOD you just imagined is presently present. He is not the “I Was” of the past or the “I Will Be” once you’re in a better place. No, he is the great “I AM,” our “ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The phrase “ever-present” means that GOD will be present whenever _______ happens. There is no shift in culture, no partisan legislation, and no political power swing that can undo the present presence of GOD.

David, the shepherd/king of biblical times, lived under the terrifying reign of King Saul (where hostile tweets were the least of his problems) and then through the ugly uprising of his own ambitious son Absalom (who used shady marketing to win over the voters), yet he penned these famous words: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me … You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:4,5).

David was not afraid, even in the dark valleys where his political enemies plotted and planned. Why not? “For you [GOD] are with me.” If this stunning GOD always “is,” then there is no reason to be afraid.

Word #3: Here

The GOD who takes away fear is not over “there” with them, but instead right “here” with you. If you’ve turned from your sin and trusted in GOD’s Son, Jesus, then “GOD is here” is your daily reality. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

Nothing in 2020 has the power to shove GOD away from your side. An impeachment is impotent in that regard. Elections are unable to evict our King from the throne of your heart. Supreme courts and border policies have no say where GOD goes.

Brother or sister, that means that GOD is here. No matter what. No matter who. No matter when.

Those are the three words that can change your election-year fear.

Still struggling? Can I suggest reading the psalms, all 150 of them, before election night? Study how real the enemies of the ancient world were, how much fear they injected into the hearts of GOD’s people, and (most vitally) how David and friends knew exactly where to run to find peace — the refuge of GOD’s presence.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

They couldn’t control the political future. Neither can you. But every Christian can breathe deeply, find lasting peace, and rejoice at the reality that GOD is here.

Even during an election year.

Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6064462166001_6064469737001-vs Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year Mike Novotny fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc f31e76ea-1ada-548f-850f-c07b4c2edd81 article   Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6064462166001_6064469737001-vs Mike Novotny: 3 words will help you conquer fear in this election year Mike Novotny fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/opinion fnc f31e76ea-1ada-548f-850f-c07b4c2edd81 article

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Yosemite National Park visitors hit with gastrointestinal illness prompting ‘extensive clean-up’: report

At least 12 people have fallen ill with gastrointestinal problems after visiting Yosemite National Park, prompting federal officials to launch an investigation into the park’s food facilities, according to a report.

The National Park Service and U.S. Public Health Service told the San Francisco Chronical Thursday that several employees and visitors became sick with stomach issues this month, although the immediate cause of the illness wasn’t known.

UTAH WOMAN KILLED DAUGHTER, 4, WITH KITCHEN KNIFE, ‘PARTIALLY SEVERED’ HER SHOULDER AND WRIST: REPORT 

Park officials said an “extensive clean-up and disinfection” operation has begun in the park’s many food establishments which include restaurants, snack stands, and hotels.

Yosemite has employed Aramark, a Philadelphia-based food service, to operate its facilities for the last four years.

Westlake Legal Group The-Ahwahnee-Getty Yosemite National Park visitors hit with gastrointestinal illness prompting 'extensive clean-up': report Paulina Dedaj fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/travel/general/national-parks fox news fnc/us fnc article 400fe022-89e1-560b-a81b-33af1218707f

The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park, California (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

Aramark has been criticized in the past for its services, most recently seeing the Ahwahnee Hotel downgrade from its four-diamond rating by AAA to three diamonds, the Chronical reported.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

They declined to comment for the paper, referring media requests to the park.

There was no word on how many people may have been exposed to the mystery illness but no eating establishments have been closed.

Westlake Legal Group The-Ahwahnee-Getty Yosemite National Park visitors hit with gastrointestinal illness prompting 'extensive clean-up': report Paulina Dedaj fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/travel/general/national-parks fox news fnc/us fnc article 400fe022-89e1-560b-a81b-33af1218707f   Westlake Legal Group The-Ahwahnee-Getty Yosemite National Park visitors hit with gastrointestinal illness prompting 'extensive clean-up': report Paulina Dedaj fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/travel/general/national-parks fox news fnc/us fnc article 400fe022-89e1-560b-a81b-33af1218707f

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Amb. Richard Grenell praises German diplomatic action as Trump calls for greater NATO role in Mideast conflict

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121741146001_6121738711001-vs Amb. Richard Grenell praises German diplomatic action as Trump calls for greater NATO role in Mideast conflict Julia Musto fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/trade fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/terror fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/angela-merkel fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 9b8e13bd-c2b3-5f4a-8ad3-d6b3eebc9323 /FOX NEWS/SHOWS/Your World Cavuto/Interviews

Progress is being made in swaying European nations to get tough with Iran, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said Saturday.

Appearing on “Cavuto LIVE,” Grenell said German Secretary-General Paul Ziemiak’s announcement that Germany and other European nations should move forward with sanctions on Iran marked a “real switch” from when Europeans were “going around the situation.”

TRUMP SAYS IRAN ‘APPEARS TO BE STANDING DOWN,’ MISSILE STRIKES RESULTED IN NO CASUALTIES

“Now the Europeans are talking about whether or not they should even be continuing in the [Iran nuclear deal] because of what they have seen from the Iranian regime. So, I think that we’re in a fundamentally different place and a better place,” Grenell said.

TRUMP SPEAKS TO NATO SECRETARY AFTER URGING WORLD BODY TO TAKE ON GREATER ROLE IN MIDEAST CONFLICT

On Wednesday, President Trump spoke to the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, following the president’s nine-minute speech earlier in the day urging the organization to take a larger role in quelling strife in the Middle East.

A White House spokesman said Trump spoke to Stoltenberg and “emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East,” according to Politico.

After speaking, Trump and Stoltenberg “agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism” and said they would be “in close contact on the issue,” according to a readout of the call.

Grenell echoed the president’s pleas: “We see that Iran is supporting terrorism, so let’s use diplomacy … through sanctions and through other economic means, to bring the Iranians to the table.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

He told host Neil Cavuto that the European partners are very slow in coming around and taking action, which was one of the reasons he wanted to go to Germany and start prodding.

“One thing that is very clear … is that they can’t stay in some of these theaters unless the United States is there,” Grenell said. “When President Trump very bluntly says you know, ‘you’re welcome to form an international coalition and replace us, they immediately say well we can’t do that. We need the United States. And, so these are conversations that we have to have to push for them for greater participation.”

Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121741146001_6121738711001-vs Amb. Richard Grenell praises German diplomatic action as Trump calls for greater NATO role in Mideast conflict Julia Musto fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/trade fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/terror fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/angela-merkel fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 9b8e13bd-c2b3-5f4a-8ad3-d6b3eebc9323 /FOX NEWS/SHOWS/Your World Cavuto/Interviews   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121741146001_6121738711001-vs Amb. Richard Grenell praises German diplomatic action as Trump calls for greater NATO role in Mideast conflict Julia Musto fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/germany fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/trade fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/terror fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/angela-merkel fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 9b8e13bd-c2b3-5f4a-8ad3-d6b3eebc9323 /FOX NEWS/SHOWS/Your World Cavuto/Interviews

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dan Gainor: Anti-Trump media attack him for killing of Soleimani, blame him for Iran shooting down plane

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121568929001_6121573951001-vs Dan Gainor: Anti-Trump media attack him for killing of Soleimani, blame him for Iran shooting down plane fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox-news/politics/defense fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/opinion fnc Dan Gainor article 19b0f1e6-6497-5f07-bac2-09b16b4bb233

The media’s 2020 vision includes lamenting the death of a terrorist responsible for the deaths of over 600 American troops and thousands of other people, and blaming President Trump for Iran shooting down a Ukrainian civilian jet that resulted in the deaths of all 176 people aboard.

There is no low journalists won’t embrace to defeat Trump in the November presidential election. MSNBC even reported Iran’s entirely false claim about its missile assault on two military bases in Iraq that “30 U.S. soldiers have been killed in this attack.” In reality, there were no American casualties.

The week began with the fallout from killing Iranian terrorist Gen. Qassem Soleimani, but ended with the huge news that Iran admitted to “unintentionally” shooting down the Ukrainian passenger plane.

TRUMP ACCUSES ‘UNHINGED’ DEMOCRATS OF ‘DEFENDING THE LIFE’ OF IRAN’S SOLEIMANI

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had the audacity to tweet “regrets, apologies and condolences” complete with a broken heart emoji.

The attack on the plane had been a particular point of embarrassment for some in the press desperate to blame Trump rather than Iran. The Associated Press posted a story headlined: “An Iranian general dies in U.S. attack, and innocents suffer.” Twitter outrage forced AP to change the headline.

More from Opinion

New York Times columnist Max Fisher pointed his finger at Trump for events leading up the plane being shot down by Iran. He wrote how most analysts say the latest conflict began “when President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear accord, imposed crushing sanctions on Iran and issued a series of maximalist demands.”

That was a commonplace view on the left and in the media. Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg was joined by Rep. Jackie Speier D-Calif., in blaming Trump for the deaths.

“Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat,” wrote Buttigieg.

The Atlantic Senior Editor David Frum agreed, saying “176 other people” “paid a price for President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iran’s Qassem Soleimani.”

Leftist Vox Associate Editor Aaron Rupar blamed Trump for “the Iranian government accidentally killing 176 people,” adding that “Escalation has consequences.”

And NBC News Correspondent Heidi Przybyla said the deaths were “related to the crossfire.” Not to the fact that Iran fired the missile that downed the plane.

The killing of a known terrorist tied to the deaths of so many Americans brought outrage from the press all week.

Once more, “Death to America” was heard in Iran. Only this time, CNN host Erin Burnett rationalized it. She said when she was in Iran and heard people chanting it, “it felt like a thing and a trope as opposed to anything that actually was seriously meant and considered.”

Her fellow anchor Chris Cuomo linked the killing of Soleimani to Trump’s impeachment, asking: “Did he just make a decision to keep himself alive politically, that put us and our families at mortal risk?”

MSNBC found several different ways to blame Trump.

“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski implied the president was blackmailing … friendly Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“Very vintage Trump is to dig up dirt on people, or exchange some sort of favor, and he has them under his thumb to say things that are ridiculous,” Brzezinski said. Then she added: “You have to wonder.

“Hardball” host Chris Matthews found a new thrill for his leg – the use of some form of the word “assassin” in regards to killing Soleimani. He used it 60 times, noting “we are in the assassination business again.”

, she did manage to make the confrontation between nations into race-baiting. She whined how Trump was “flanked by stern white military men” when he gave his White House address.

That same speech was met with massive criticism from NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. He called it “notable at how ham-handedly the president tried to politicize this by blaming the previous administration.” He also downplayed how Team Obama had sent Iran $1.7 billion in cash to make the nuclear deal happen, in effect funding a terror state.

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Public radio was just as bad. NPR’s “All Things Considered” anchor Mary Louise Kelly considered an Iranian propaganda outlet to be “right-wing.” Kelly interviewed the political desk director “at Iran’s right-wing Tasnim News Agency.”

How do you know it’s “right-wing?” It has “close ties to Iran’s powerful hardline Revolutionary Guard force, or IRGC.” That’s a terrorist organization, according to our own State Department. (Thanks NPR. Our tax dollars at work!)

World War III trended on social media and journalists raced to cover it like that mattered. Washington Post Editorial Writer Molly Roberts responded as her paper almost always responds, by attacking Trump. “The World War III memes are about how loony our predicament is, thanks in large part to the looniness of our president,” she wrote.

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And Wired magazine decided “WWIII Memes, Oddly, Prove There’s Hope for the Internet.”

Too bad there’s little hope for journalism.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY DAN GAINOR

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Christina Perri suffers miscarriage: ‘I am so sad but not ashamed’

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Christina Perri is opening up about a tragic event to her fans.

The 33-year-old “A Thousand Years” singer took to Instagram on Friday to share with her million followers that she suffered a miscarriage earlier that day.

“Today i had a miscarriage,” she wrote. “Baby was 11 weeks old.”

MEGHAN MCCAIN REVEALS SHE SUFFERED A MISCARRIAGE: ‘INSIDE, I AM DYING’

Perri said she and husband Paul Costabile are “shocked & completely heartbroken” by the news.

“We were only 1 week away from sharing the news so i feel like its also important to share this news too,” she wrote. “I want to continue to help change the story & stigma around miscarriage, secrecy and shame.”

She added: “I am so sad but not ashamed. I am ever reminded how amazing and powerful women are at making life and at healing. to all the mothers who have been here and who will be here, i see you and i love you.”

JOY-ANNA DUGGAR REVEALS SHE SUFFERED MISCARRIAGE 5 MONTHS INTO SECOND PREGNANCY: ‘WE’VE CRIED COUNTLESS TEARS’

The singer added that she and her husband will try for another baby “when the time feels right.” For now, the couple will continue to “mourn our little life lost.”

On Saturday, the singer appeared to be keeping her spirits high, as she posted a photo of the couple’s daughter, Carmella, 1, smiling on a swing.

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“We are so blessed with Carmella. We are holding her extra tight today and letting her endless joy fill our hearts,” she said.

Perri and Costabile have been married since December 2017.

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Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War

WASHINGTON — The plane was late and the kill team was worried. International listings showed that Cham Wings Airlines Flight 6Q501, scheduled to take off from Damascus at 7:30 p.m. for Baghdad, had departed, but in fact, an informant at the airport reported, it was still on the ground and the targeted passenger had not yet shown up.

The hours ticked by and some involved in the operation wondered if it should be called off. Then, just before the plane door closed, a convoy of cars pulled up on the tarmac carrying Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s security mastermind, who climbed on board along with two escorts. Flight 6Q501 lifted off, three hours late, bound for the Iraqi capital.

The plane landed at Baghdad International Airport just after midnight, at 12:36 a.m., and the first to disembark were General Suleimani and his entourage. Waiting at the bottom of the gangway was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi official in charge of militias and close to Iran. Two cars carrying the group headed into the night — shadowed by American MQ-9 Reaper drones. At 12:47, the first of several missiles smashed into the vehicles, engulfing them in flames and leaving 10 charred bodies inside.

The operation that took out General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, propelled the United States to the precipice of war with Iran and plunged the world into seven days of roiling uncertainty. The story of those seven days, and the secret planning in the months preceding them, ranks as the most perilous chapter so far in President Trump’s three years in office after his decision to launch an audacious strike on Iran, and his attempt through allies and a back channel to keep the ensuing crisis from mushrooming out of control.

The president’s decision to ratchet up decades of simmering conflict with Iran set off an extraordinary worldwide drama, much of which played out behind the scenes. In capitals from Europe to the Middle East, leaders and diplomats sought to head off a full-fledged new war while at the White House and Pentagon, the president and his advisers ordered more troops to the region.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler was so alarmed he dispatched his brother to Washington for a clandestine meeting with Mr. Trump. European leaders, incensed at being kept in the dark, scrambled to keep Iran from escalating. If it did, Americans developed plans to strike a command-and-control ship and conduct a cyberattack to partly disable Iran’s oil and gas sector.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11dc-sevendays6-articleLarge Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Military Bases and Installations Iran Esper, Mark T Drones (Pilotless Planes) Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Baghdad International Airport (Iraq)

The aftermath of the airstrike on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani’s car early Friday at the Baghdad airport. Altogether, 10 people were killed.Credit…Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, via Associated Press

But the United States also sent secret messages through Swiss intermediaries urging Iran not to respond so forcefully that Mr. Trump would feel compelled to go even further. After it did respond, firing 16 missiles at bases housing American troops without hurting anyone as a relatively harmless show of force, a message came back through the Swiss saying that would be the end of its reprisal for now. The message, forwarded to Washington within five minutes after it was received, persuaded the president to stand down.

When the week ended without the war many feared, Mr. Trump boasted that he had taken out an American enemy. But the struggle between two nations is not really over. Iran may find other ways to take revenge. Iraqi leaders may expel American forces, accomplishing in death what General Suleimani tried and failed to do in life. And in the confusion, a Ukrainian civilian passenger jet was destroyed by an Iranian missile, killing 176 people.

The episode briefly gave Mr. Trump’s allies something to cheer, distracting from the coming Senate impeachment trial, but now he faces questions even among Republicans about the shifting justifications for the strike that he and his national security team have offered. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially cited the need to forestall an “imminent” attack and the president has amplified that to say four American embassies were targeted.

But administration officials said they did not actually know when or where such an attack might occur and one State Department official said it was “a mistake” to use the word “imminent.” And some Pentagon officials were stunned that Mr. Trump picked what they considered a radical option with unforeseen consequences.

This account, based on interviews with dozens of Trump administration officials, military officers, diplomats, intelligence analysts and others in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, offers new details about what may be the most consequential seven days of the Trump presidency.

The confrontation may have actually begun by accident. For years, Iran has sponsored proxy forces in Iraq, competing for influence with American troops who first arrived in the invasion of 2003. Starting last fall, Iranian-backed militias launched rockets at Iraqi bases that house American troops, shattering nerves more than doing much damage.

So when rockets smashed into the K1 military base near Kirkuk on Dec. 27, killing an American civilian contractor, Nawres Waleed Hamid, and injuring several others, the only surprise was the casualties. Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia group held responsible, had fired at least five other rocket attacks on bases with Americans in the previous month without deadly results.

American intelligence officials monitoring communications between Kataib Hezbollah and General Suleimani’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps learned that the Iranians wanted to keep the pressure on the Americans but had not intended to escalate the low-level conflict. The rockets landed in a place and at a time when American and Iraqi personnel normally were not there and it was only by unlucky chance that Mr. Hamid was killed, American officials said.

But that did not matter to Mr. Trump and his team. An American was dead and the president who had called off a retaliatory strike with 10 minutes to go in June and otherwise refrained from military action in response to Iranian provocations now faced a choice.

Advisers told him Iran had probably misinterpreted his previous reluctance to use force as a sign of weakness. To reestablish deterrence, he should authorize a tough response. On holiday at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, the president agreed to strikes on five sites in Iraq and Syria two days later, killing at least 25 members of a pro-Iranian militia and injuring at least 50 more.

Two days later, on Dec. 31, pro-Iranian protesters backed by many members of the same militia responded by breaking into the American Embassy compound in Baghdad and setting fires. Worried about repeats of the 1979 embassy takeover in Iran or the 2012 attack on a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, Mr. Trump and his team ordered more than 100 Marines to rush to Baghdad from Kuwait.

The Marines received little information about their mission or what was happening on the ground as they loaded their magazines with ammunition. All they knew was they were being sent to secure the embassy with one clear order: If protesters entered the compound, kill them.

Some of the Marines made dry jokes about the movie, “Rules of Engagement,” starring Samuel L. Jackson as a commander whose unit fires on a crowd of embassy protesters, stirring an international episode and a court-martial. But when the Marines reached Baghdad, none had to open fire. They used tear gas to disperse protesters and the siege ended without bloodshed.

Westlake Legal Group iraq-embassy-baghdad-airport-attack-1578026455663-articleLarge-v11 Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Military Bases and Installations Iran Esper, Mark T Drones (Pilotless Planes) Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Baghdad International Airport (Iraq)

Maps: How the Confrontation Between the U.S. and Iran Escalated

Here’s how the situation developed over the last two weeks.

Still, watching television in Florida, Mr. Trump grew agitated by the chaos and ready to authorize a more robust response. And on Dec. 31, even as the protests were beginning, a top secret memo began circulating, signed by Robert C. O’Brien, his national security adviser and, listing potential targets, including an Iranian energy facility and a command-and-control ship used by the Revolutionary Guards to direct small boats that harass oil tankers in the waters around Iran. The ship had been an irritant to Americans for months, especially after a series of covert attacks on oil tankers.

The memo also listed a more provocative option — targeting specific Iranian officials for death by military strike. Among the targets mentioned, according to officials who saw it, was Abdul Reza Shahlai, an Iranian commander in Yemen who helped finance armed groups across the region.

Another name on the list: General Suleimani.

General Suleimani was hardly a household name in the United States, but as far as American officials were concerned, he was responsible for more instability and death in the Middle East than almost anyone.

As the head of the elite Quds Force, General Suleimani was effectively the second-most powerful man in Iran and had a hand in managing proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, including a campaign of roadside bombs and other attacks that killed an estimated 600 American troops during the height of the Iraq war.

At 62, with a narrow face, gray hair and a close-cropped beard, General Suleimani was known for traveling without body armor or personal protection, collaborating with some of the most ruthless figures in the region while sharing meals with the fighters and telling them to take care of their mothers, according to a Hezbollah field commander who met him in Syria.

After decades of working in the shadows, General Suleimani had emerged in recent years following the Arab Spring and war with the Islamic State as the public figure most associated with Iran’s goal of achieving regional dominance. Photographs surfaced showing him visiting the front lines in Iraq or Syria, meeting with Iran’s supreme leader in Tehran or sitting down with the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon. When President Bashar al-Assad of Syria visited Tehran last year, it was General Suleimani who welcomed him.

By the end of 2019, General Suleimani could boast of a number of Iranian accomplishments: Mr. Assad, a longtime Iranian ally, was safely in power in Damascus, Syria’s capital, prevailing in a bloody, multifront, yearslong civil war and the Quds Force had a permanent presence on Israel’s frontier. A number of militias General Suleimani had helped foster were receiving salaries from the Iraqi government and exerting power in Iraq’s political system. And the Islamic State had been defeated in Syria and Iraq thanks, in part, to ground forces he had overseen, one area where he and the United States shared interests.

For the past 18 months, officials said, there had been discussions about whether to target General Suleimani. Figuring that it would be too difficult to hit him in Iran, officials contemplated going after him during one of his frequent visits to Syria or Iraq and focused on developing agents in seven different entities to report on his movements — the Syrian Army, the Quds Force in Damascus, Hezbollah in Damascus, the Damascus and Baghdad airports and the Kataib Hezbollah and Popular Mobilization forces in Iraq.

By the time tensions with Iran spiked in May with attacks on four oil tankers, John R. Bolton, then the president’s national security adviser, asked the military and intelligence agencies to produce new options to deter Iranian aggression. Among those presented to Mr. Bolton was killing General Suleimani and other leaders of the Revolutionary Guards. At that point, work to track General Suleimani’s travels grew more intense.

By September, the United States Central Command and Joint Special Operations Command were brought into the process to plan a possible operation. Various alternatives were discussed, some in Syria, some in Iraq. Syria seemed more complicated, both because the American military had less freedom of movement there and because General Suleimani spent most of his time with Hezbollah officers and officials did not want to bring them into the mix and risk a new war with Israel.

Agents recruited in Syria and Iraq reported from time to time on General Suleimani’s movements, according to an official involved. Surveillance revealed that he flew on a number of airlines and sometimes tickets for a trip were bought on more than one to throw off pursuers. He would be delivered to his plane at the last possible moment, then sit in the front row of business class so he could get off first and depart quickly.

General Suleimani set off on his last trip on New Year’s Day, flying to Damascus and then heading by car to Lebanon to meet with Mr. Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, before returning to Damascus that evening. During their meeting, Mr. Nasrallah said in a later speech, he warned General Suleimani that the American news media was focusing on him and publishing his photograph.

“This was media and political preparation for his assassination,” Mr. Nasrallah said.

But as he recalled, General Suleimani laughed, and said that, in fact, he hoped to die a martyr and asked Mr. Nasrallah to pray that he would.

That same day, at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., Gina Haspel was working to fulfill that prayer.

Ms. Haspel, the director, was shown intelligence indicating that General Suleimani was preparing to move from Syria to Iraq. Officials told her there was additional intelligence that he was working on a large-scale attack intended to drive American forces out of the Middle East.

There was no single definitive piece of intelligence. Instead, officials said, C.I.A. officers spoke of the “mosaic effect,” multiple scraps of information that came together indicating that General Suleimani was organizing proxy forces around the region, including in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, to attack American embassies and bases. Several officials said they did not have enough concrete information to describe such a threat as “imminent,” despite Mr. Pompeo’s assertion, but they did see a worrying pattern.

While Mr. Pompeo also claimed later that such an attack could kill “hundreds,” other officials said they had no specific intelligence suggesting that. Most American facilities in the region have been heavily fortified for years and such an immense death toll would be unlikely; at no point in the last two decades, even during the worst of the Iraq war, have any hostile forces been able to pull off such a deadly assault on Americans at once.

Nonetheless, Ms. Haspel was convinced there was evidence of a coming attack and argued the consequences of not striking General Suleimani were more dangerous than waiting, officials said. While others worried about reprisals, she reassured colleagues that Iran’s response would be measured. Indeed, she predicted the most likely response would be an ineffectual missile strike from Iran on Iraqi bases where American troops were stationed.

“If past is prologue, we have learned that when we enforce a red line with Iran, when Iran gets rapped on the knuckles, they tactically retreat,” said Dan Hoffman, a former C.I.A. officer who served in Iraq. “The retreat might be ephemeral before Iran probes its enemies with more gradually escalating attacks, but we’ve seen it repeatedly.”

There was little dissent about killing General Suleimani among Mr. Trump’s senior advisers, but some Pentagon officials were shocked that the president picked what they considered the most extreme option and some intelligence officials worried that the possible long-term ramifications were not adequately considered, particularly if action on Iraqi soil prompted Iraq to expel American forces.

“The whole thing seems haphazard to me,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior C.I.A. official who retired last year.

The Trump administration has said that General Suleimani was going to Baghdad as part of the attack plot, but there are different theories about the purpose of his visit.

General Suleimani had long played a role as power broker in Iraqi politics, and two Iraqi politicians with links to Iran said he was coming to Baghdad to help break an impasse over replacing the prime minister after the collapse of the government in November in the face of anti-Iran protests.

But Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, still serving as a caretaker until a new government is formed, told Parliament after the drone strike that General Suleimani had another goal — to bring an Iranian response to a Saudi offer to reduce tensions. The shadow conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia had been heating up. After Iranian forces were blamed for an attack on two Saudi oil facilities in September and Mr. Trump opted against a military response, Saudi officials worried that they were vulnerable and opened a back channel.

In his speech to Parliament, Mr. Abdul Mahdi said he had planned to meet with General Suleimani a few hours after his arrival in Baghdad. “It was expected that he was carrying a message for me from the Iranian side responding to the Saudi message that we had sent to the Iranian side to reach agreements and breakthroughs,” Mr. Abdul Mahdi said.

A Saudi official said he was unaware of any message carried by General Suleimani and some analysts doubted Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s account. “That is laughable,” said Mohammed Alyahya, the editor in chief of Al Arabiya English, a Saudi news site. “Suddenly, this man is a diplomat extraordinaire one day before he died?”

Another theory, advanced by an intelligence official involved in the operation, held that General Suleimani was visiting Iraq to quash anti-Iranian protests by having his Shia militia break them up by force. He hoped to install a new anti-American government that might even throw out United States forces.

Whatever his goals, they died with him in the mangled wreckage at Baghdad’s airport. Altogether, 10 people were killed — General Suleimani, Mr. al-Muhandis and their aides. Mr. al-Muhandis had helped found Kataib Hezbollah, the militia held responsible for the Dec. 27 rocket attack that killed the American contractor.

The New York Times

But another Iranian commander escaped. The same night General Suleimani died, American forces tried to kill Mr. Shahlai, the Quds Force commander in Yemen mentioned in Mr. O’Brien’s memo. Still, the attack failed because of an undisclosed problem with the intelligence.

Iran braced for more. “There was a state of mobilization to get ready in case that was the first stage in a wider plan,” said Mohammed Obeid, a Lebanese political activist with ties to Iran’s “resistance axis” in the region. “There could have been other steps that the Americans or the Israelis would take, broadening the circle of confrontation.”

Mr. Trump planned to play golf the next morning, Jan. 4, but advisers concluded it would send the wrong message as General Suleimani’s death stirred unrest around the Middle East and raised the prospect of a wider conflict with Iran.

The president was initially upbeat, expecting the operation to be greeted with applause much like the raid in October that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. Indeed, Mr. Trump opened his first statement to reporters on the mission that Friday by describing General Suleimani as the “No. 1 terrorist anywhere in the world,” much as he had opened his statement a couple of months ago calling Mr. al-Baghdadi the “world’s No. 1 terrorist leader.”

But as the president watched television over the weekend, he grew angry that critics were accusing him of reckless escalation. He sought validation from guests at his Florida clubs, recounting details of the Baghdad Embassy protests and drinking in their praise for his decisiveness. He told some associates that he wanted to preserve the support of Republican hawks in the Senate in the coming impeachment trial, naming Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas as an example, even though they had not spoken about Iran since before Christmas.

While Mr. Trump tipped off another hawk, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who was visiting in Florida, his administration gave no advance warning to its European allies or Persian Gulf partners in advance of the strike. The only foreign leader who appeared in the know was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who had spoken with Mr. Pompeo before the attack and later offered a cryptic public hint hours before it took place.

“We know that our region is stormy; very, very dramatic things are happening in it,” Mr. Netanyahu told reporters, unprompted, on the tarmac in Tel Aviv before departing for a visit to Athens. He went on to offer support for the United States “and to its full right to defend itself and its citizens.”

Israeli leaders were later pleased by the death of General Suleimani, one of their deadliest enemies, but remained silent lest they provoke retaliation, even as shelter supplies were checked and a ski resort near the Syrian frontier was briefly closed.

Yet some figured that if Hezbollah were to attack Israel on Iran’s behalf, it might be better to have that battle now. “This camp believes that there will be such a clash anyway and the best timing is before the U.S. elections — and that Israel may lose this president in the White House,” said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.

In Riyadh, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was unsettled. Despite his hawkish approach to Iran, he has been recently accepting offers from Pakistanis, Omanis, Iraqis and others to mediate. Now, he immediately dispatched his younger brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the deputy defense minister, on an emergency mission to the White House.

The Saudi view was “hitting Suleimani is great, but what is the plan?” said Sir John Jenkins, a former British ambassador to Riyadh. “If there is a plan, we are down with it. If not, we all have to de-escalate.”

Prince Khalid was pleased by whatever Mr. Trump told him, telling diplomats afterward that the royal family was glad the president had dealt Iran a serious blow — and relieved that he did not seem inclined to escalate further.

But many were not sure. Mr. Trump issued bellicose threats to destroy Iran if it retaliated, including cultural treasures in violation of international law, touching off international outrage and forcing his own defense secretary to publicly disavow the threat, saying it would be a war crime.

Mr. Trump was largely alone on the world stage. No major European power, not even Britain, voiced support for the drone strike, even as leaders agreed that General Suleimani had blood on his hands. As Le Monde, the French newspaper, put it, the rift signaled “a new stage in the trans-Atlantic divorce over the Middle East.”

Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran has been a major point of contention. European leaders deeply resented the unilateral pullout, seeing that as a grave error that started a cycle of sanctions and recriminations that led to the seven-day showdown and now the restart of the Iranian nuclear program.

When Mr. Pompeo phoned his European counterparts after the strike, they expressed concern. In a 15-minute call, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany said the killing had not made it any easier to stabilize the region. Mr. Pompeo responded that the situation was now more stable.

The French and Japanese both offered to serve as mediators, but that only annoyed Mr. Trump, who dislikes middlemen. So the Europeans focused on keeping Tehran from overreacting.

Video

transcript

Video Shows Aftermath of U.S. Strike That Killed Top Iran Commander

President Trump authorized the attack early Friday at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Suleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. But we caught him in the act. We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166605342_bb1d07c1-25be-4a96-8815-857e98b24a47-videoSixteenByNine3000 Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Military Bases and Installations Iran Esper, Mark T Drones (Pilotless Planes) Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Baghdad International Airport (Iraq)

President Trump authorized the attack early Friday at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.CreditCredit…Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg News

A senior German diplomat sent a text message to his Iranian counterpart urging calm. He got back a terse, though polite, message. In a series of phone calls, European officials tried to give the Iranians a sense that it was not them against the rest of the world but that in fact there was a global public beyond the United States, according to one European diplomat.

President Emmanuel Macron of France played an active role, reaching out to both sides. “Macron’s specificity is that he does not approve, but he also does not condemn,” said Michel Duclos, a former French ambassador to Syria.

Mr. Macron reached Mr. Trump on Sunday and emphasized the need for de-escalation. Mr. Trump suggested he was still open to diplomacy. All the Iranians had to do was come to him and they could make a deal, Mr. Trump said, according to a senior French official.

Two days later, Mr. Macron spoke with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and reminded him that he had “missed a chance in September” to talk directly with Mr. Trump in a phone call Mr. Macron tried to arrange on the sidelines of the annual United Nations session.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany spoke with Mr. Trump, too, and expressed concern for Iraq’s stability if allied troops withdrew. If the United States stayed, she said, Germany would also. Mr. Trump joked that Germany was welcome to lead the international force and replace the Americans. Ms. Merkel laughed.

The most important European country in these seven days, it turned out, was Switzerland, which has served as the intermediary between the United States and Iran since they broke off diplomatic relations in 1980.

Hours after the strike, Markus Leitner, the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, headed to the Iranian Foreign Ministry for the first of two visits that day, according to a Swiss analyst. The Americans had sent a letter to the Iranians through the Swiss warning against any retaliation for the drone strike that would incite further military action by Mr. Trump.

The Americans “said that if you want to get revenge, get revenge in proportion to what we did,” Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, told Iranian state television.

American officials disputed that characterization and analysts doubted it was that explicit, although that could be how Tehran interpreted it. In any case, Mr. Leitner went back to the Foreign Ministry at day’s end for the Iranian response.

Unbeknown to the Iranians, Mr. Trump had agreed to targeting the other sites originally considered — the oil and gas facility and the command-in-control ship — as part of any further retaliation that might be necessary if Iran responded to the drone strike. Despite Mr. Trump’s threat, none of the targets on the list were actually cultural, an official said; that was just presidential bluster, aggravated by an instinct to double down in the face of criticism.

On Tuesday, the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center, part of the National Security Agency, pulled together multiple strands of information, including overhead imagery and communication intercepts, to conclude that an Iranian missile strike on Iraqi bases was coming, officials said. The center sent the warning to the White House.

Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. O’Brien immediately headed to the Situation Room in the basement, joined later by the president and Mr. Pompeo. At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by its chairman, Gen. Mark A. Milley, convened in a third-floor conference room and discussed how to move troops and families in the region to safer locations.

Just after 5:30 p.m., an almost robotic voice came over a speakerphone in the Situation Room. “Sir, we have indications of a launch at 22:30 Zulu Time from western Iran in the direction of Iraq, Syria and Jordan.” Reports began coming in faster. The missiles were staggered but most were streaking toward Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, home to 2,000 American troops.

The barrage ended after an hour but base commanders ordered troops to remain in shelter in case more missiles came. Around 7:30, about an hour after the strikes concluded, Mr. Esper and General Milley headed to the White House to meet with Mr. Trump.

The missiles damaged a helicopter, some tents and other structures but, thanks to the advance warning, inflicted no casualties. And through the Swiss came another message: That was it. That was their retribution.

The Americans were struck by the speed of the communication — it was shown to Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo within five minutes after the Swiss received it from Tehran. They passed the message by encrypted fax to Brian H. Hook, the special representative on Iran in Washington, two minutes after the Iranians gave it to them.

Mr. Esper, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war of 1991, counseled caution. “Let’s stay calm,” he said. “The ball is in our court. There’s no rush to do anything. Let’s all sleep on it.”

By the time Mr. Trump retired to the residence for the night, advisers said, he was relieved there had been no casualties and eager for a reset, a path away from a deeper conflict. He posted a reassuring tweet: “All is well!”

The next morning Mr. Trump addressed the nation from the White House, and while he excoriated Iran’s “campaign of terror,” he made clear he would not retaliate further.

“Iran appears to be standing down,” he said, without revealing the secret message sent through the Swiss, adding that he was “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”

The immediate crisis over, Mr. Trump sent top officials to brief Congress, but the closed-door sessions in a secure facility where lawmakers had to surrender their telephones did little to quell concerns about the justification for the drone strike.

In the House briefing, Mr. Pompeo offered a brief introduction followed by presentations by Ms. Haspel, Mr. Esper, General Milley and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. All three offered vague but emphatic assertions of intelligence indicating an imminent threat by General Suleimani. General Milley said the evidence could not be clearer and was the “best intelligence” he had seen during his career.

But they refused to describe it in detail. One lawmaker said the information was no more secret than what could be found on Wikipedia. At one point, General Milley said the intelligence showed discussion by General Suleimani of potential terrorist attacks on three specific dates in late December or early January.

“What were the threats?” several lawmakers in the audience shouted, but General Milley declined to say.

Another lawmaker noted that the three dates General Milley cited were all before the strike on General Suleimani and no attacks actually occurred then.

“What really came across was a sense of disdain and contempt for the legislative branch,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia. “They didn’t even pretend to be engaged in information sharing and consultation.”

Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, called the session for senators “probably the worst briefing” in his nine years in office. “We never got to the details,” he said. “Every time we got close, they said, ‘Well, we can’t discuss that here because it’s sensitive.’”

If it was too sensitive for Congress, it was not too sensitive for Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host. In an interview broadcast on Friday, Mr. Trump told her that the threat had been to four American embassies, even as other officials said privately that they did not have concrete evidence of General Suleimani’s targets.

After seven days of saber rattling and fresh deployments, the immediate march to war had ended. But inside the security establishment, few consider the crisis to be over. In the months to come, they expect Iran to regroup and find ways to strike back.

“Suleimani as a person inspired the masses, he was a national icon, he symbolized the struggle,” said Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington who studies Iran. “But he was also a very small part of a very large organization.”

“Yes, it is decapitated,” he added, “but the organization is not destroyed.”

Peter Baker and Julian E. Barnes reported from Washington, Ronen Bergman from Tel Aviv, David D. Kirkpatrick from London, and Alissa J. Rubin from Baghdad. Reporting was contributed by Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Lara Jakes, Mark Mazzetti, David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt, Michael D. Shear, Noah Weiland and Edward Wong from Washington; Rukmini Callimachi; Maggie Haberman and Farnaz Fassihi from New York; Adam Nossiter and Constant Méheut from Paris; Steven Erlanger from Brussels; Katrin Bennhold from Berlin; Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva; David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem; Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad from Beirut; and Falih Hassan from Baghdad.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War

WASHINGTON — The plane was late and the kill team was worried. International listings showed that Cham Wings Airlines Flight 6Q501, scheduled to take off from Damascus at 7:30 p.m. for Baghdad, had departed, but in fact, an informant at the airport reported, it was still on the ground and the targeted passenger had not yet shown up.

The hours ticked by and some involved in the operation wondered if it should be called off. Then, just before the plane door closed, a convoy of cars pulled up on the tarmac carrying Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s security mastermind, who climbed on board along with two escorts. Flight 6Q501 lifted off, three hours late, bound for the Iraqi capital.

The plane landed at Baghdad International Airport just after midnight, at 12:36 a.m., and the first to disembark were General Suleimani and his entourage. Waiting at the bottom of the gangway was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi official in charge of militias and close to Iran. Two cars carrying the group headed into the night — shadowed by American MQ-9 Reaper drones. At 12:47, the first of several missiles smashed into the vehicles, engulfing them in flames and leaving 10 charred bodies inside.

The operation that took out General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, propelled the United States to the precipice of war with Iran and plunged the world into seven days of roiling uncertainty. The story of those seven days, and the secret planning in the months preceding them, ranks as the most perilous chapter so far in President Trump’s three years in office after his decision to launch an audacious strike on Iran, and his attempt through allies and a back channel to keep the ensuing crisis from mushrooming out of control.

The president’s decision to ratchet up decades of simmering conflict with Iran set off an extraordinary worldwide drama, much of which played out behind the scenes. In capitals from Europe to the Middle East, leaders and diplomats sought to head off a full-fledged new war while at the White House and Pentagon, the president and his advisers ordered more troops to the region.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler was so alarmed he dispatched his brother to Washington for a clandestine meeting with Mr. Trump. European leaders, incensed at being kept in the dark, scrambled to keep Iran from escalating. If it did, Americans developed plans to strike a command-and-control ship and conduct a cyberattack to partly disable Iran’s oil and gas sector.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11dc-sevendays6-articleLarge Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Military Bases and Installations Iran Esper, Mark T Drones (Pilotless Planes) Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Baghdad International Airport (Iraq)

The aftermath of the airstrike on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani’s car early Friday at the Baghdad airport. Altogether, 10 people were killed.Credit…Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, via Associated Press

But the United States also sent secret messages through Swiss intermediaries urging Iran not to respond so forcefully that Mr. Trump would feel compelled to go even further. After it did respond, firing 16 missiles at bases housing American troops without hurting anyone as a relatively harmless show of force, a message came back through the Swiss saying that would be the end of its reprisal for now. The message, forwarded to Washington within five minutes after it was received, persuaded the president to stand down.

When the week ended without the war many feared, Mr. Trump boasted that he had taken out an American enemy. But the struggle between two nations is not really over. Iran may find other ways to take revenge. Iraqi leaders may expel American forces, accomplishing in death what General Suleimani tried and failed to do in life. And in the confusion, a Ukrainian civilian passenger jet was destroyed by an Iranian missile, killing 176 people.

The episode briefly gave Mr. Trump’s allies something to cheer, distracting from the coming Senate impeachment trial, but now he faces questions even among Republicans about the shifting justifications for the strike that he and his national security team have offered. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially cited the need to forestall an “imminent” attack and the president has amplified that to say four American embassies were targeted.

But administration officials said they did not actually know when or where such an attack might occur and one State Department official said it was “a mistake” to use the word “imminent.” And some Pentagon officials were stunned that Mr. Trump picked what they considered a radical option with unforeseen consequences.

This account, based on interviews with dozens of Trump administration officials, military officers, diplomats, intelligence analysts and others in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, offers new details about what may be the most consequential seven days of the Trump presidency.

The confrontation may have actually begun by accident. For years, Iran has sponsored proxy forces in Iraq, competing for influence with American troops who first arrived in the invasion of 2003. Starting last fall, Iranian-backed militias launched rockets at Iraqi bases that house American troops, shattering nerves more than doing much damage.

So when rockets smashed into the K1 military base near Kirkuk on Dec. 27, killing an American civilian contractor, Nawres Waleed Hamid, and injuring several others, the only surprise was the casualties. Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia group held responsible, had fired at least five other rocket attacks on bases with Americans in the previous month without deadly results.

American intelligence officials monitoring communications between Kataib Hezbollah and General Suleimani’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps learned that the Iranians wanted to keep the pressure on the Americans but had not intended to escalate the low-level conflict. The rockets landed in a place and at a time when American and Iraqi personnel normally were not there and it was only by unlucky chance that Mr. Hamid was killed, American officials said.

But that did not matter to Mr. Trump and his team. An American was dead and the president who had called off a retaliatory strike with 10 minutes to go in June and otherwise refrained from military action in response to Iranian provocations now faced a choice.

Advisers told him Iran had probably misinterpreted his previous reluctance to use force as a sign of weakness. To reestablish deterrence, he should authorize a tough response. On holiday at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, the president agreed to strikes on five sites in Iraq and Syria two days later, killing at least 25 members of a pro-Iranian militia and injuring at least 50 more.

Two days later, on Dec. 31, pro-Iranian protesters backed by many members of the same militia responded by breaking into the American Embassy compound in Baghdad and setting fires. Worried about repeats of the 1979 embassy takeover in Iran or the 2012 attack on a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, Mr. Trump and his team ordered more than 100 Marines to rush to Baghdad from Kuwait.

The Marines received little information about their mission or what was happening on the ground as they loaded their magazines with ammunition. All they knew was they were being sent to secure the embassy with one clear order: If protesters entered the compound, kill them.

Some of the Marines made dry jokes about the movie, “Rules of Engagement,” starring Samuel L. Jackson as a commander whose unit fires on a crowd of embassy protesters, stirring an international episode and a court-martial. But when the Marines reached Baghdad, none had to open fire. They used tear gas to disperse protesters and the siege ended without bloodshed.

Westlake Legal Group iraq-embassy-baghdad-airport-attack-1578026455663-articleLarge-v11 Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Military Bases and Installations Iran Esper, Mark T Drones (Pilotless Planes) Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Baghdad International Airport (Iraq)

Maps: How the Confrontation Between the U.S. and Iran Escalated

Here’s how the situation developed over the last two weeks.

Still, watching television in Florida, Mr. Trump grew agitated by the chaos and ready to authorize a more robust response. And on Dec. 31, even as the protests were beginning, a top secret memo began circulating, signed by Robert C. O’Brien, his national security adviser and, listing potential targets, including an Iranian energy facility and a command-and-control ship used by the Revolutionary Guards to direct small boats that harass oil tankers in the waters around Iran. The ship had been an irritant to Americans for months, especially after a series of covert attacks on oil tankers.

The memo also listed a more provocative option — targeting specific Iranian officials for death by military strike. Among the targets mentioned, according to officials who saw it, was Abdul Reza Shahlai, an Iranian commander in Yemen who helped finance armed groups across the region.

Another name on the list: General Suleimani.

General Suleimani was hardly a household name in the United States, but as far as American officials were concerned, he was responsible for more instability and death in the Middle East than almost anyone.

As the head of the elite Quds Force, General Suleimani was effectively the second-most powerful man in Iran and had a hand in managing proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, including a campaign of roadside bombs and other attacks that killed an estimated 600 American troops during the height of the Iraq war.

At 62, with a narrow face, gray hair and a close-cropped beard, General Suleimani was known for traveling without body armor or personal protection, collaborating with some of the most ruthless figures in the region while sharing meals with the fighters and telling them to take care of their mothers, according to a Hezbollah field commander who met him in Syria.

After decades of working in the shadows, General Suleimani had emerged in recent years following the Arab Spring and war with the Islamic State as the public figure most associated with Iran’s goal of achieving regional dominance. Photographs surfaced showing him visiting the front lines in Iraq or Syria, meeting with Iran’s supreme leader in Tehran or sitting down with the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon. When President Bashar al-Assad of Syria visited Tehran last year, it was General Suleimani who welcomed him.

By the end of 2019, General Suleimani could boast of a number of Iranian accomplishments: Mr. Assad, a longtime Iranian ally, was safely in power in Damascus, Syria’s capital, prevailing in a bloody, multifront, yearslong civil war and the Quds Force had a permanent presence on Israel’s frontier. A number of militias General Suleimani had helped foster were receiving salaries from the Iraqi government and exerting power in Iraq’s political system. And the Islamic State had been defeated in Syria and Iraq thanks, in part, to ground forces he had overseen, one area where he and the United States shared interests.

For the past 18 months, officials said, there had been discussions about whether to target General Suleimani. Figuring that it would be too difficult to hit him in Iran, officials contemplated going after him during one of his frequent visits to Syria or Iraq and focused on developing agents in seven different entities to report on his movements — the Syrian Army, the Quds Force in Damascus, Hezbollah in Damascus, the Damascus and Baghdad airports and the Kataib Hezbollah and Popular Mobilization forces in Iraq.

By the time tensions with Iran spiked in May with attacks on four oil tankers, John R. Bolton, then the president’s national security adviser, asked the military and intelligence agencies to produce new options to deter Iranian aggression. Among those presented to Mr. Bolton was killing General Suleimani and other leaders of the Revolutionary Guards. At that point, work to track General Suleimani’s travels grew more intense.

By September, the United States Central Command and Joint Special Operations Command were brought into the process to plan a possible operation. Various alternatives were discussed, some in Syria, some in Iraq. Syria seemed more complicated, both because the American military had less freedom of movement there and because General Suleimani spent most of his time with Hezbollah officers and officials did not want to bring them into the mix and risk a new war with Israel.

Agents recruited in Syria and Iraq reported from time to time on General Suleimani’s movements, according to an official involved. Surveillance revealed that he flew on a number of airlines and sometimes tickets for a trip were bought on more than one to throw off pursuers. He would be delivered to his plane at the last possible moment, then sit in the front row of business class so he could get off first and depart quickly.

General Suleimani set off on his last trip on New Year’s Day, flying to Damascus and then heading by car to Lebanon to meet with Mr. Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, before returning to Damascus that evening. During their meeting, Mr. Nasrallah said in a later speech, he warned General Suleimani that the American news media was focusing on him and publishing his photograph.

“This was media and political preparation for his assassination,” Mr. Nasrallah said.

But as he recalled, General Suleimani laughed, and said that, in fact, he hoped to die a martyr and asked Mr. Nasrallah to pray that he would.

That same day, at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., Gina Haspel was working to fulfill that prayer.

Ms. Haspel, the director, was shown intelligence indicating that General Suleimani was preparing to move from Syria to Iraq. Officials told her there was additional intelligence that he was working on a large-scale attack intended to drive American forces out of the Middle East.

There was no single definitive piece of intelligence. Instead, officials said, C.I.A. officers spoke of the “mosaic effect,” multiple scraps of information that came together indicating that General Suleimani was organizing proxy forces around the region, including in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, to attack American embassies and bases. Several officials said they did not have enough concrete information to describe such a threat as “imminent,” despite Mr. Pompeo’s assertion, but they did see a worrying pattern.

While Mr. Pompeo also claimed later that such an attack could kill “hundreds,” other officials said they had no specific intelligence suggesting that. Most American facilities in the region have been heavily fortified for years and such an immense death toll would be unlikely; at no point in the last two decades, even during the worst of the Iraq war, have any hostile forces been able to pull off such a deadly assault on Americans at once.

Nonetheless, Ms. Haspel was convinced there was evidence of a coming attack and argued the consequences of not striking General Suleimani were more dangerous than waiting, officials said. While others worried about reprisals, she reassured colleagues that Iran’s response would be measured. Indeed, she predicted the most likely response would be an ineffectual missile strike from Iran on Iraqi bases where American troops were stationed.

“If past is prologue, we have learned that when we enforce a red line with Iran, when Iran gets rapped on the knuckles, they tactically retreat,” said Dan Hoffman, a former C.I.A. officer who served in Iraq. “The retreat might be ephemeral before Iran probes its enemies with more gradually escalating attacks, but we’ve seen it repeatedly.”

There was little dissent about killing General Suleimani among Mr. Trump’s senior advisers, but some Pentagon officials were shocked that the president picked what they considered the most extreme option and some intelligence officials worried that the possible long-term ramifications were not adequately considered, particularly if action on Iraqi soil prompted Iraq to expel American forces.

“The whole thing seems haphazard to me,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior C.I.A. official who retired last year.

The Trump administration has said that General Suleimani was going to Baghdad as part of the attack plot, but there are different theories about the purpose of his visit.

General Suleimani had long played a role as power broker in Iraqi politics, and two Iraqi politicians with links to Iran said he was coming to Baghdad to help break an impasse over replacing the prime minister after the collapse of the government in November in the face of anti-Iran protests.

But Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, still serving as a caretaker until a new government is formed, told Parliament after the drone strike that General Suleimani had another goal — to bring an Iranian response to a Saudi offer to reduce tensions. The shadow conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia had been heating up. After Iranian forces were blamed for an attack on two Saudi oil facilities in September and Mr. Trump opted against a military response, Saudi officials worried that they were vulnerable and opened a back channel.

In his speech to Parliament, Mr. Abdul Mahdi said he had planned to meet with General Suleimani a few hours after his arrival in Baghdad. “It was expected that he was carrying a message for me from the Iranian side responding to the Saudi message that we had sent to the Iranian side to reach agreements and breakthroughs,” Mr. Abdul Mahdi said.

A Saudi official said he was unaware of any message carried by General Suleimani and some analysts doubted Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s account. “That is laughable,” said Mohammed Alyahya, the editor in chief of Al Arabiya English, a Saudi news site. “Suddenly, this man is a diplomat extraordinaire one day before he died?”

Another theory, advanced by an intelligence official involved in the operation, held that General Suleimani was visiting Iraq to quash anti-Iranian protests by having his Shia militia break them up by force. He hoped to install a new anti-American government that might even throw out United States forces.

Whatever his goals, they died with him in the mangled wreckage at Baghdad’s airport. Altogether, 10 people were killed — General Suleimani, Mr. al-Muhandis and their aides. Mr. al-Muhandis had helped found Kataib Hezbollah, the militia held responsible for the Dec. 27 rocket attack that killed the American contractor.

The New York Times

But another Iranian commander escaped. The same night General Suleimani died, American forces tried to kill Mr. Shahlai, the Quds Force commander in Yemen mentioned in Mr. O’Brien’s memo. Still, the attack failed because of an undisclosed problem with the intelligence.

Iran braced for more. “There was a state of mobilization to get ready in case that was the first stage in a wider plan,” said Mohammed Obeid, a Lebanese political activist with ties to Iran’s “resistance axis” in the region. “There could have been other steps that the Americans or the Israelis would take, broadening the circle of confrontation.”

Mr. Trump planned to play golf the next morning, Jan. 4, but advisers concluded it would send the wrong message as General Suleimani’s death stirred unrest around the Middle East and raised the prospect of a wider conflict with Iran.

The president was initially upbeat, expecting the operation to be greeted with applause much like the raid in October that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. Indeed, Mr. Trump opened his first statement to reporters on the mission that Friday by describing General Suleimani as the “No. 1 terrorist anywhere in the world,” much as he had opened his statement a couple of months ago calling Mr. al-Baghdadi the “world’s No. 1 terrorist leader.”

But as the president watched television over the weekend, he grew angry that critics were accusing him of reckless escalation. He sought validation from guests at his Florida clubs, recounting details of the Baghdad Embassy protests and drinking in their praise for his decisiveness. He told some associates that he wanted to preserve the support of Republican hawks in the Senate in the coming impeachment trial, naming Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas as an example, even though they had not spoken about Iran since before Christmas.

While Mr. Trump tipped off another hawk, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who was visiting in Florida, his administration gave no advance warning to its European allies or Persian Gulf partners in advance of the strike. The only foreign leader who appeared in the know was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who had spoken with Mr. Pompeo before the attack and later offered a cryptic public hint hours before it took place.

“We know that our region is stormy; very, very dramatic things are happening in it,” Mr. Netanyahu told reporters, unprompted, on the tarmac in Tel Aviv before departing for a visit to Athens. He went on to offer support for the United States “and to its full right to defend itself and its citizens.”

Israeli leaders were later pleased by the death of General Suleimani, one of their deadliest enemies, but remained silent lest they provoke retaliation, even as shelter supplies were checked and a ski resort near the Syrian frontier was briefly closed.

Yet some figured that if Hezbollah were to attack Israel on Iran’s behalf, it might be better to have that battle now. “This camp believes that there will be such a clash anyway and the best timing is before the U.S. elections — and that Israel may lose this president in the White House,” said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.

In Riyadh, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was unsettled. Despite his hawkish approach to Iran, he has been recently accepting offers from Pakistanis, Omanis, Iraqis and others to mediate. Now, he immediately dispatched his younger brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the deputy defense minister, on an emergency mission to the White House.

The Saudi view was “hitting Suleimani is great, but what is the plan?” said Sir John Jenkins, a former British ambassador to Riyadh. “If there is a plan, we are down with it. If not, we all have to de-escalate.”

Prince Khalid was pleased by whatever Mr. Trump told him, telling diplomats afterward that the royal family was glad the president had dealt Iran a serious blow — and relieved that he did not seem inclined to escalate further.

But many were not sure. Mr. Trump issued bellicose threats to destroy Iran if it retaliated, including cultural treasures in violation of international law, touching off international outrage and forcing his own defense secretary to publicly disavow the threat, saying it would be a war crime.

Mr. Trump was largely alone on the world stage. No major European power, not even Britain, voiced support for the drone strike, even as leaders agreed that General Suleimani had blood on his hands. As Le Monde, the French newspaper, put it, the rift signaled “a new stage in the trans-Atlantic divorce over the Middle East.”

Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran has been a major point of contention. European leaders deeply resented the unilateral pullout, seeing that as a grave error that started a cycle of sanctions and recriminations that led to the seven-day showdown and now the restart of the Iranian nuclear program.

When Mr. Pompeo phoned his European counterparts after the strike, they expressed concern. In a 15-minute call, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany said the killing had not made it any easier to stabilize the region. Mr. Pompeo responded that the situation was now more stable.

The French and Japanese both offered to serve as mediators, but that only annoyed Mr. Trump, who dislikes middlemen. So the Europeans focused on keeping Tehran from overreacting.

Video

transcript

Video Shows Aftermath of U.S. Strike That Killed Top Iran Commander

President Trump authorized the attack early Friday at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Suleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. But we caught him in the act. We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166605342_bb1d07c1-25be-4a96-8815-857e98b24a47-videoSixteenByNine3000 Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Military Bases and Installations Iran Esper, Mark T Drones (Pilotless Planes) Diplomatic Service, Embassies and Consulates Baghdad International Airport (Iraq)

President Trump authorized the attack early Friday at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.CreditCredit…Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg News

A senior German diplomat sent a text message to his Iranian counterpart urging calm. He got back a terse, though polite, message. In a series of phone calls, European officials tried to give the Iranians a sense that it was not them against the rest of the world but that in fact there was a global public beyond the United States, according to one European diplomat.

President Emmanuel Macron of France played an active role, reaching out to both sides. “Macron’s specificity is that he does not approve, but he also does not condemn,” said Michel Duclos, a former French ambassador to Syria.

Mr. Macron reached Mr. Trump on Sunday and emphasized the need for de-escalation. Mr. Trump suggested he was still open to diplomacy. All the Iranians had to do was come to him and they could make a deal, Mr. Trump said, according to a senior French official.

Two days later, Mr. Macron spoke with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and reminded him that he had “missed a chance in September” to talk directly with Mr. Trump in a phone call Mr. Macron tried to arrange on the sidelines of the annual United Nations session.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany spoke with Mr. Trump, too, and expressed concern for Iraq’s stability if allied troops withdrew. If the United States stayed, she said, Germany would also. Mr. Trump joked that Germany was welcome to lead the international force and replace the Americans. Ms. Merkel laughed.

The most important European country in these seven days, it turned out, was Switzerland, which has served as the intermediary between the United States and Iran since they broke off diplomatic relations in 1980.

Hours after the strike, Markus Leitner, the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, headed to the Iranian Foreign Ministry for the first of two visits that day, according to a Swiss analyst. The Americans had sent a letter to the Iranians through the Swiss warning against any retaliation for the drone strike that would incite further military action by Mr. Trump.

The Americans “said that if you want to get revenge, get revenge in proportion to what we did,” Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, told Iranian state television.

American officials disputed that characterization and analysts doubted it was that explicit, although that could be how Tehran interpreted it. In any case, Mr. Leitner went back to the Foreign Ministry at day’s end for the Iranian response.

Unbeknown to the Iranians, Mr. Trump had agreed to targeting the other sites originally considered — the oil and gas facility and the command-in-control ship — as part of any further retaliation that might be necessary if Iran responded to the drone strike. Despite Mr. Trump’s threat, none of the targets on the list were actually cultural, an official said; that was just presidential bluster, aggravated by an instinct to double down in the face of criticism.

On Tuesday, the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center, part of the National Security Agency, pulled together multiple strands of information, including overhead imagery and communication intercepts, to conclude that an Iranian missile strike on Iraqi bases was coming, officials said. The center sent the warning to the White House.

Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. O’Brien immediately headed to the Situation Room in the basement, joined later by the president and Mr. Pompeo. At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by its chairman, Gen. Mark A. Milley, convened in a third-floor conference room and discussed how to move troops and families in the region to safer locations.

Just after 5:30 p.m., an almost robotic voice came over a speakerphone in the Situation Room. “Sir, we have indications of a launch at 22:30 Zulu Time from western Iran in the direction of Iraq, Syria and Jordan.” Reports began coming in faster. The missiles were staggered but most were streaking toward Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, home to 2,000 American troops.

The barrage ended after an hour but base commanders ordered troops to remain in shelter in case more missiles came. Around 7:30, about an hour after the strikes concluded, Mr. Esper and General Milley headed to the White House to meet with Mr. Trump.

The missiles damaged a helicopter, some tents and other structures but, thanks to the advance warning, inflicted no casualties. And through the Swiss came another message: That was it. That was their retribution.

The Americans were struck by the speed of the communication — it was shown to Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo within five minutes after the Swiss received it from Tehran. They passed the message by encrypted fax to Brian H. Hook, the special representative on Iran in Washington, two minutes after the Iranians gave it to them.

Mr. Esper, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war of 1991, counseled caution. “Let’s stay calm,” he said. “The ball is in our court. There’s no rush to do anything. Let’s all sleep on it.”

By the time Mr. Trump retired to the residence for the night, advisers said, he was relieved there had been no casualties and eager for a reset, a path away from a deeper conflict. He posted a reassuring tweet: “All is well!”

The next morning Mr. Trump addressed the nation from the White House, and while he excoriated Iran’s “campaign of terror,” he made clear he would not retaliate further.

“Iran appears to be standing down,” he said, without revealing the secret message sent through the Swiss, adding that he was “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”

The immediate crisis over, Mr. Trump sent top officials to brief Congress, but the closed-door sessions in a secure facility where lawmakers had to surrender their telephones did little to quell concerns about the justification for the drone strike.

In the House briefing, Mr. Pompeo offered a brief introduction followed by presentations by Ms. Haspel, Mr. Esper, General Milley and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. All three offered vague but emphatic assertions of intelligence indicating an imminent threat by General Suleimani. General Milley said the evidence could not be clearer and was the “best intelligence” he had seen during his career.

But they refused to describe it in detail. One lawmaker said the information was no more secret than what could be found on Wikipedia. At one point, General Milley said the intelligence showed discussion by General Suleimani of potential terrorist attacks on three specific dates in late December or early January.

“What were the threats?” several lawmakers in the audience shouted, but General Milley declined to say.

Another lawmaker noted that the three dates General Milley cited were all before the strike on General Suleimani and no attacks actually occurred then.

“What really came across was a sense of disdain and contempt for the legislative branch,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia. “They didn’t even pretend to be engaged in information sharing and consultation.”

Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, called the session for senators “probably the worst briefing” in his nine years in office. “We never got to the details,” he said. “Every time we got close, they said, ‘Well, we can’t discuss that here because it’s sensitive.’”

If it was too sensitive for Congress, it was not too sensitive for Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host. In an interview broadcast on Friday, Mr. Trump told her that the threat had been to four American embassies, even as other officials said privately that they did not have concrete evidence of General Suleimani’s targets.

After seven days of saber rattling and fresh deployments, the immediate march to war had ended. But inside the security establishment, few consider the crisis to be over. In the months to come, they expect Iran to regroup and find ways to strike back.

“Suleimani as a person inspired the masses, he was a national icon, he symbolized the struggle,” said Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington who studies Iran. “But he was also a very small part of a very large organization.”

“Yes, it is decapitated,” he added, “but the organization is not destroyed.”

Peter Baker and Julian E. Barnes reported from Washington, Ronen Bergman from Tel Aviv, David D. Kirkpatrick from London, and Alissa J. Rubin from Baghdad. Reporting was contributed by Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Lara Jakes, Mark Mazzetti, David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt, Michael D. Shear, Noah Weiland and Edward Wong from Washington; Rukmini Callimachi; Maggie Haberman and Farnaz Fassihi from New York; Adam Nossiter and Constant Méheut from Paris; Steven Erlanger from Brussels; Katrin Bennhold from Berlin; Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva; David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem; Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad from Beirut; and Falih Hassan from Baghdad.

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Furor in Iran and Abroad After Tehran Admits Downing Ukrainian Jetliner

KYIV, Ukraine — Iran’s stunning admission that its forces errantly downed a Ukrainian jetliner — reversing three days of denial — did little to quell growing fury inside the country and beyond on Saturday as the deadly tragedy turned into a volatile political crisis for Tehran’s leaders and overshadowed their struggle with the United States.

Ukrainian officials criticized Iran’s conduct, suggesting that the Iranians would not have admitted responsibility if investigators from Ukraine had not found evidence of a missile strike in the wreckage of the crash, which killed all 176 people aboard.

Protests erupted in Tehran and other Iranian cities as dumbfounded citizens found a new reason to mistrust Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and other officials. Protest videos even showed some shouting “Khamenei is a murderer!” and anti-riot police tear-gassing violent demonstrators.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in his first reaction to Iran’s announcement, said his country would “insist on a full admission of guilt” by Tehran.

Contradictions and miscues complicated Iran’s message even as it took responsibility for the disaster. Iran’s military, in its initial admission early Saturday, said the flight’s crew had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base — an assertion that was immediately disputed by the Ukrainians.

Hours later, an Iranian commander who accepted full responsibility for the disaster agreed that the Ukrainians were right.

“The plane was flying in its normal direction without any error and everybody was doing their job correctly,” said the commander, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who leads the airspace unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — a powerful, hard-line military force. “If there was a mistake, it was made by one of our members.”

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Westlake Legal Group xxivid-iran-plane-2-square640 Furor in Iran and Abroad After Tehran Admits Downing Ukrainian Jetliner Zarif, Mohammad Javad United States International Relations Rouhani, Hassan Politics and Government Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Iran Defense and Military Forces Deaths (Fatalities) Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters Airlines and Airplanes

The New York Times has obtained and verified video showing the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit in Iran.CreditCredit…Screenshot from video

The Ukrainians further accused Iran of having recklessly permitted commercial flights during a security emergency and of having violated universally accepted procedures for a post-crash investigation. Bulldozers had heaped debris from the plane into piles on the ground.

“Everything was done absolutely inappropriately,” Oleksiy Danilov, the Ukrainian security official overseeing the crash inquiry, said in an interview with The New York Times, referring to how Iranian authorities had handled the site of the crash.

Within Iran, citizens vented anger toward their government in the first hours after the admission and President Hassan Rouhani called the error an “unforgivable mistake.” General Hajizadeh, whose forces were responsible, said he had wished death upon himself because of the blunder.

“Death to liars!” and “Death to the dictator!” shouted Iranians gathered in squares in the capital Tehran, videos shared on social media showed. “You have no shame!” shouted several young men, and the crowd joined in a chorus.

Iranians who only a few days earlier were united in outraged grief over the American killing of a storied Revolutionary Guards leader, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, were now once again out en masse protesting their government.

Many carried candles and placed flowers at the gates of the universities and other public places in Tehran. Conservatives and supporters of the government accused the authorities of having intentionally misled the public initially about what had brought down the plane. Its passengers included many young Iranians on their way to Canada for graduate study.

The criticism of Iran over the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a Boeing 737-800, now threatens to eclipse whatever international sympathy Iran has garnered in its escalating confrontation with the Trump administration, which has faced widespread criticism over stoking a violent confrontation with Iran’s leaders.

The plane went down in fiery destruction just a few minutes after having departed Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport Wednesday morning, only hours after Iranian military forces had fired a barrage of missiles at bases in Iraq housing American troops in retaliation for the killing of General Suleimani by a United States military drone in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

Iran’s aerial defense forces, worried about possible American reprisals for the missile attack, were on alert — even though commercial aviation in Iran was allowed to proceed normally.

For three days after the crash, Iranian officials not only denied their military forces were responsible but blamed what they called the aircraft’s mechanical problems and said suggestions of Iranian culpability were American propaganda. Satellite surveillance and video clips of the plane strongly suggested Iran’s own air defense missile system blasted the plane out of the sky.

The Iranians reversed themselves early Saturday.

The newly critical language by Ukrainian officials in the aftermath of Iran’s admission stood in sharp contrast to more cautious statements in recent days. It partly reflected the frustrations in a country that had been thrust in the middle of the conflict between the United States and Iran.

The Trump administration made no immediate comment on Iran’s admission of responsibility.

Mr. Danilov, the Ukrainian security official, said Iran had been forced into conceding its military had brought down the jet because the evidence of a missile strike had become overwhelmingly clear to international investigators.

He said Ukrainian experts on the ground in Iran had gathered such evidence since their arrival on Thursday despite apparent Iranian efforts to complicate the investigation, including by sweeping debris into piles rather than carefully documenting it.

“When a catastrophe happens, everything is supposed to stay in its place,” he said. “Every element is described, every element is photographed, every element is fixed in terms of its location and coordinates. To our great regret, this was not done.”

Mr. Zelensky’s office posted on Facebook photos of plane wreckage and a Canadian man’s passport showing small piercings — consistent with the hypothesis that shrapnel from a surface-to-air missile hit the plane.

“We expect Iran to assure its readiness for a full and open investigation, to bring those responsible to justice, to return the bodies of the victims, to pay compensation, and to make official apologies through diplomatic channels,” Mr. Zelensky said in a post on his Facebook page. “We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles.”

The official reaction from Iran was a mix of contrition and suggestions that the tragedy should be viewed as a consequence of American hostility.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote that “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

Mr. Rouhani, in a statement cited by the Fars News Agency, offered condolences to the victims’ families and said that “the terrible catastrophe should be thoroughly investigated.”

The Iranian expressions of remorse were met with frustration by Ukrainian aviation officials who had been struggling since the crash to get meaningful information from Iran about what had actually happened.

“Even in the statement of Iran there is a hint that our crew was acting independently, or that it could have acted differently,” said the airline director, Yevhenii Dykhne.

The crew received no warning before leaving Tehran, the Ukrainian officials said. The plane took off as Ukrainian flights from Iran had dozens of times before, and followed the same departure routes as other airliners leaving that morning, Ihor Sosnovsky, the vice president for flight operations, told journalists.

“There was no deviation from any routes that some are hinting at,” he said.

The crew maintained normal radio contact with the tower in Tehran, he said, and followed a standard departure procedure for the airport. After having reached an elevation of 6,000 feet, they were instructed to make a slight northerly turn. In the last communication, he said, one of the pilots read back this instruction from the tower, saying “turn and climb.”

Addressing criticism that the airline should not have sent a plane to Iran at all, in light of tensions in the region, the airline officials said it was Iran’s responsibility to close airspace if it had intended to fire missiles.

Mr. Danilov said Iran had no choice but to admit to shooting down the plane because the facts had become apparent to Ukrainian experts on the ground and to the international community.

The “cherry on top” in Ukraine’s probe, he said, came on Friday evening Iran time, when Ukrainian investigators found fragments of the top part of the airplane cabin that had been pierced by what appeared to be the shrapnel of a missile warhead.

“As we saw it, Iran had to face the reality that there’s no way they’ll get out of this,” Mr. Danilov said.

In the hours immediately after the crash, Mr. Danilov said, Iran was resistant to letting Ukraine conduct its own investigation. He said the possibility that international aviation authorities might shut down passenger flights to Tehran also placed enormous pressure on Iran.

“They said: ‘Sorry, this was a technical error, either due to the pilots or the technical condition of the airplane.’ We said: ‘Let us have a look.’ They said: ‘We won’t let you,’” Mr. Danilov said. “It took rather concerted efforts of our diplomats and our consul working there in order to make sure everything went well for our specialists.”

Mr. Zelensky spoke by phone to President Emmanuel Macron of France, and both agreed that French specialists would help decode the plane’s black box flight recorders.

Mr. Hajizadeh, the Iranian official who accepted responsibility for the missile strike, said the plane had been misidentified as a cruise missile and was shot down with a short-range missile that exploded near the plane.

He said the Iranian missile operator had acted independently because of “jamming.” Asked during his address why Iranian airspace was not shut to commercial air traffic amid the attacks, Mr. Hajizadeh had no clear answer.

“I wish I was dead,” Mr. Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by local news outlets. “I accept all responsibility for this incident.”

Anton Troianovski reported from Kyiv, Ukraine, Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow, and Farnaz Fassihi from New York. Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen from Edmonton, Alberta; James Glanz, Malachy Browne and Christiaan Triebert from New York; Ivan Nechepurenko from Moscow and Lara Jakes from Washington.

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