Despite being “cocked and loaded” to launch a retaliatory assault on Iran, President Trump changed his mind 10 minutes before the planned strikes. The president said that he canceled the strike because the loss of life was “not proportionate” to the downing of the unmanned US Navy drone.
This was a remarkable move for the president, one he will not get proper credit for. To those who call him unhinged, and a danger to the United States, they should consider that his reasoning was to avoid war in the region. Trump made clear that the loss of Iranian lives was “not proportionate” to replacing the drone, he made this decision against advice from Pompeo, Bolton and the Pentagon. A bold move by a president not afraid to stand alone.
Accusing Iran of shooting down the US surveillance drone over “international waters”, Trump tweeted his reason for canceling the strike.
“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world sanctions are biting & more added last night.” Trump said in a series of tweets.”
….proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
The planned attack, ordered after Iranian forces shot down a U.S. Navy drone over the Strait of Hormuz, would have involved airstrikes and was close to being carried out when it was stopped, said an administration official, who would not discuss whether the plan might still be revived. The official was granted anonymity to discuss a national security matter, Bloomberg reported.
What happened with the drone?
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced its air force had shot down a US “spy” drone on Thursday morning after the unmanned aircraft violated Iranian airspace near Kuhmobarak in the southern province of Hormozgan.
IRGC commander-in-chief Maj-Gen Hossein Salami said the drone’s downing was a “clear message” to the US that Iran’s borders were “our red line”, the BBC reported.
Calling off the attack comes at a time when tensions are soaring Washington and Tehran, with blame for the recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf pinned by the US on the Islamic Republic, coupled with Thursday’s shoot-down of an American spy drone off the coast of Iran.
While the US military argued that the drone was attacked “unprovoked” over international waters, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Thursday provided exact coordinates of the location of the aircraft when it was intercepted by Iran’s air defenses, well within the country’s airspace.
What was planned:
In its initial report, The New York Times said that as late as 19:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on Thursday, US military and diplomatic officials had still expected the strikes to take place on agreed targets, including Iranian radar and missile batteries.
“Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down,” the newspaper reported, citing an unnamed senior administration official.
The strikes had been set to take place just before dawn on Friday to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to civilians, the newspaper added.
Tweeting on Friday, Mr Trump said three sites had been targeted, the BBC reported.
The United States conducting a military assault could have immediate and far-reaching consequences. With proxy forces or allies in countries including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, among others, retaliation from Iran could come in many forms, targeting not just U.S. interests but Israel as well and raising the risk of disruptions to oil flows out of the wider Persian Gulf region.
President Trump has imposed several new layers of economic sanctions on Iran in recent months, including on the country’s oil and nuclear sectors, part of its so-called “maximum pressure campaign” designed to coerce the country’s leadership to renegotiate the nuclear pact signed between Iran and world powers in 2015.
The rising tensions in the region prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to prohibit U.S. airlines from flying over the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Oman “until further notice” because of the heightened military activities and political disputes between the U.S. and Iran.
The FAA issued the warning late Thursday for passenger aircraft after a U.S. military drone was shot down in the region earlier in the day. The FAA said the drone was operating in the vicinity of airline routes above the Gulf of Oman.