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Elham AbolFateh

Middle East

Trump: U.S. will respond with 'great force' if Iran attacks interests

Tuesday 21/May/2019 - 05:47 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by: Mohamed Emad

President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with “great force” if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East، and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi’ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone، according to Reuters.

“I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything،” Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. “If they do something، it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will.”

His comments came as two U.S. government sources said the United States strongly suspects Shi’ite militias with ties to، and possibly encouragement from، Iran fired a rocket on Sunday into Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

The sources، who are familiar with U.S. national security assessments and spoke on condition of anonymity، said the United States was still trying to establish which militia fired the Katyusha rocket on Sunday and the extent، if any، of Iranian involvement.

The rocket fell in the Green Zone which houses government buildings and embassies and caused no casualties، the latest in a series of regional attacks the United States believes may have been inspired by Iran. Iran has rejected allegations of its possible involvement in attacks last week and Iran’s Iraqi allies rushed to condemn Sunday’s rocket blast.

The attacks include what Saudi Arabia described as armed drone attacks on two oil pumping stations within the kingdom on May 14 and the sabotage of four vessels، including two Saudi oil tankers، off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on May 12.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility for attacking the pumping stations. Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of ordering the attack. Tensions between Washington and its Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab allies on one side and Tehran and its Shi’ite Muslim proxies on the other have been flaring for weeks.

European and U.S. government sources believe Shi’ite militias based in Yemen or Iraq carried out the attacks in Saudi Arabia and near the UAE، likely with Iran’s encouragement.

The two U.S. sources said they are still trying to establish whether the rocket attack، if inspired or directed by Iran، was designed to send a specific signal to the United States.

The incidents all took place after Trump decided to try to cut off Iran’s oil exports، roughly a year after he withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers.

Trump’s decision to abandon the deal that restricted Iran’s potential pathway to developing a nuclear bomb in return for relief from economic sanctions angered Tehran، which accuses Washington of breaking its word. Iran denies ever having a nuclear weapons program.

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