Mike Pompeo gathered himself some “important information” during his trip to Saudi Arabia, America’s top diplomat told reporters on Thursday, at the conclusion of his visit to the kingdom, where he chatted with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The Saudis on Wednesday held a veritable exhibition of wreckage from the drone and missile strikes on the country’s oil infrastructure. The defense ministry said the attacks were “unquestionably” orchestrated by Iran. The US is expected to make some manner of declassified report public soon.
“I’ll be able to give the president some important information about how it is we should think about proceeding”, Pompeo said Thursday, adding that there’s “enormous” consensus in the Mideast that Iran was behind the attack.
Referencing Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif’s comments to CNN, Pompeo said the following after a meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed:
We are still striving to build out a coalition in an act of diplomacy while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all out war and to fight to the last American. We’re here to build a coalition aimed at achieving peace.
Zarif’s remarks were taken totally out of context by Pompeo. Zarif was asked, by CNN, what would happen if the US and Saudi Arabia attacked Iran. He then responded that the result would be “all-out war”. Besides, Pompeo is acting as though he would have expected a different response from the sanctioned Iranian diplomat – that’s rather disingenuous.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Trump’s national security council will convene a meeting on Friday to discuss military options being drawn up on Thursday.
“Senior national security officials from across the government are scheduled to meet Thursday to refine a list of potential targets to strike in Iran, should President Trump order a military retaliation for missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields last weekend”, senior officials told the paper. Here’s a bit more:
The Pentagon is advocating military strikes that one senior official described as at the lower end of options. The official said that any retaliation could focus on more clandestine operations — actions that military planners predict would not prompt an escalation by Iran.
These kinds of targets could include the sites where Iran launches cruise missiles and drones, and where the weaponry is stored. Under this scenario, the military option would include a diplomatic outreach campaign at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week to muster support for the additional sanctions that Mr. Trump has ordered and other nonmilitary steps.
In addition to the limited strikes, the president will be presented with more aggressive options that could potentially entail sending additional US forces to the Mideast, a dramatic move that would represent a departure from Trump’s express desire to bring troops home and avoid further entanglements in the region.
On Wednesday, Trump told reporters he disagreed with staunch supporter Lindsey Graham on the desirability of haphazard military action. “Ask Lindsey, ‘How did going into Iraq work out?’”, Trump sarcastically quipped.
During the same remarks, he hinted that in due time, the US could still “do some dastardly things” to Iran in order to deter aggression against America’s allies in the region.
The president held fire in June after the IRGC downed a US drone, restraint Graham on Tuesday said was seen in Tehran as “a sign of weakness”.
New sanctions against the theocracy are set to be announced in the coming days, and as noted by the Times, any military action would be set against the UN General Assembly, a dramatic setup to be sure.