Back at the beginning of the year, Trump assassinated Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and a close confidant of the Iranian ayatollah. Undoubtedly Soleimani was responsible for a lot of terror attacks and the deaths of Americans, but Trump didn’t kill him because of that. (Trump claimed Soleimani was plotting to blow up four embassies, but intelligence and Defense officials wouldn’t back him on that.) He killed him because he could. And with no thought to the consequences (sounds just like him, doesn’t it?). Well, now one of those consequences may be about to happen.
The Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa, U.S. intelligence reports say, according to a U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence.
And yes, it’s probably in revenge for the Soleimani assassination:
Still, attacking [Ambassador] Marks is one of several options U.S. officials believe Iran’s regime is considering for retaliation since the general, Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike in January. At the time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. killed Soleimani to re-establish deterrence against Iran.
Marks has no connection to Iran, but she is a long-time friend* of Trump’s, and Iran does have a clandestine network operating in South Africa, so she may be a target of opportunity.
*I’m in the middle of Michael Cohen book Disloyal, and he makes the observation that Trump doesn’t really have friends.
The threat is considered credible, although now that it’s been reported, Iran might try something else.
I want to put on my Foreign Service hat for a moment. I was only a junior officer serving for 5 years before I had to retire (just before the 2016 election), but that’s long enough to absorb some of the ethos of the State Department. We put our lives on the line out there, not as plainly as soldiers do, but then we don’t get weapons and armor either. I had to be guarded for a week once after getting threats from an applicant I’d barred for life. In a normal 20 year career, I could have expected to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats affecting Americans abroad, and could look forward to being evacuated on an emergency basis at least once. We accept these risks because we feel an obligation to our country and our fellow-citizens. We expect our government to honor that commitment and not expose us to unnecessary risks.
Trump violated that trust. I know he’s done that at just about every other level of government and to just about every American. But this one touches me personally, and the friends I made in my time at State. A diplomat’s tools are words, but I have no words to express the depth and breadth of the outrage I feel now.