dinsdag 21 januari 2020

Minister Blok geeft geen antwoord op OPCW vragen.

( Herschreven op 21 jan, om 16 uur.  Met dank aan Ben).

De DOUMA gas aanval: een wat grove        Tijdslijn.    

 
 Image result for douma gas attack staged




april  2018.  Twee gas-bommen vallen op een huis in Douma.
                    Beelden van bijna stikkende kinderen. Met water schoon gespoten etc.

eind april:  Straf voor de schuldige: Assad.  Door VS, UK, Fr en De.

OPCW waarnemer Ian Henderson krijgt de indruk dat die gas-bommen niet uit de lucht kwamen, maar gewoon zijn weggelegd.  Dus niet Assad is de dader, maar  de opstandelingen.

Deskundigen die de video's bekijuken van de getroffen mensen, zeggen dat dit geen gas-aanval was.

Maanden later:   Enkele getroffen kinderen ( op de video zichtbaar)  komen naar Den Haag en verklaren dat er geen gas was.




2019.       Het OPCW laat een Rapport uit komen van haar onderzoek.  Ze stelt Assad als schuldige voor.

2019:      De OPCW waarnemer lekt zijn waarnemingen uit naar de pers, en zegt:   de waarnemers waren het met mij eens dat dit geen Assad  bom was.  Maar het OPCW meldt juist het tegenovergestelde in haar rapport, terwijl zij zelf niet ter plekke zijn geweest.


27 dec. 2019:  Wikileaks publiceert een interne email waar een OPCW bobo  (Braha)  opdracht geeft om alle ionterne sporen van het protest van Ian  Henderson, te wissen uit de computers.

20 januari 2020  : Minister Blok zegt dat er geen reden is om aan de integriteit van het OPCW te twijfelen. Zie onder.

20 januari 2020:  In de  Veiligheidsraad van de VN  mag Ian Henderson zijn getuigenis afleggen.





  ---------------
Een week geleden zijn vragen gesteld aan minister Blok.

De aanleiding:  Wikileaks heeft documenten gepubliceerd van enkele klokkenluiders van het OPCW.

Ik herinner me dezaak als volgt:  Assad zou uit een helicopter twee gifgas bommen hebben  gegooid. Eén viel door een dak en kwam op een bed.  
Klokkeluider Ian Henderson zegt:  gat in dak klopt niet.  Bom daar weggelegd.

Tegelijk werd er door de White Helmets een filmpje de wereld in gestuurd van hoestende kinderen.  Beweerd werd dat er gifgas was.  Kinderen zijn later nog in Den Haag geweest. 
Deskundigen die de beelden zien zeggen: Er was geen Sarin. Hooguit chloor dat  door opwaaiend stof benauwdheid veroorzaakte.

Onderzoekers zeggen:  En er waren heel erg weinig sporen van Chloor-verbindingen . Niet meer dan in andere woningen .  Er is dus ook nooit met chloor gegooid.

Over de  bom die door het dak op het bed belanddde heeft Bellingcat drie dagen geleden een rapport gemaakt, zie ik toevallig:  Bellingcat valt Ian Henderson aan.

Over de video met zieke mensen (kinderen lat erin Den Haag)  sprak kolonel Laurence Wilkerson recent nog met The Gray Zone.  Hij zei: Uit de beelden was mij al heel duidelijk dat er geen sarin was gebruikt.   

De klokkeluiders werkten als waarnemers ter plekke, in Syrië.   Hun bazen in Den Haag hebben het uiteindelijke rapport opgesteld.
Maar dat Rapport zegt dat Assad gifgas gebruikte en de schuld had.
Radicaal in tegenspraak met de mensen die naar Syrië waren gestuurd om namens het OPCW de zaak te onderzoeken.

Ik meen dat er geen waarnemers uit Syrië terug kwamen die àndere conclusies aan hun OPCW bazen hebben gegeven.
Bellingcat zegt nu  dat Henderson wèl in Douma was, maar niet echt deel van het FFM was.
Er zijn dus wel andere waarnemers in Douma geweest?
Henderson zegt dat alle mede-waarnemers het met hem eens zijn: Assad had er wellicht niks mee te maken.

Bellingcat schrijft dat er drie onafhankelijke ingenieurs-teams aan gerekend hebben en dat die beweren dat Henderson's verhaal ( berekeningen over vallende bommen)  niet klopt.   Maar waren die drie teams in Douma?  Volgens mij  niet.

Dat is cruciaal, want in de brief van minister Blok wordt dat wel gesuggereerd:  dat er behalve de Wikileaks documenten nog meer documenten zijn  , die mede de basis vormden voor het rapport.

Weet iemand of er nog meer OPCW waarnemers naar Syrië zijn gestuurd ?  ( Henderson zegt van wel)

Weet iemand of het OPCW zijn Rapport zich daar op gebaseerd zou kunnen hebben?  ( Henderson zegt dat alle waarnemers ontevredne zijn over het officiele rapport. Ook over een tweede versie die na protest is gemaakt... ( heb ik dat goed onthouden ??)

Als mijn herinnering juist is,  dan is dat Rapport gemaakt door mensen die NIET in Syrië zijn geweest.

In dat geval is de ontwijkings-manoeuvre van Blok  bedrog.

Hier de brief  van Blok in een mooie lay-out.

Hieronder  zoals ik hem kan plakken hieronder, met een slechte lay-out.

Ik zal het bedrieglijke deel rood maken. En wat comments in rood geven.

                                 ===================================





Aan de Voorzitter van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal

Binnenhof 4 Den Haag Rijnstraat 8 2515 XP Den Haag Postbus 20061 Nederland www.rijksoverheid.nl Onze Referentie BZDOC-298693154-42 Uw Referentie 2020Z00016 Bijlage(n) Datum 20 januari 2020

Betreft Beantwoording vragen van de leden Van Helvert en Omtzigt (beiden CDA) over de OPCW Douma-documenten op Wikileaks
Hierbij bied ik de antwoorden aan op de schriftelijke vragen gesteld door de leden

Van Helvert en Omtzigt over de OPCW Douma-documenten op Wikileaks. Deze vragen werden ingezonden op 3 januari 2020 met kenmerk 2020Z00016.

De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, Stef Blok

[Ondertekenaar 2] [Ondertekenaar 3] [Ondertekenaar 4] Onze Referentie BZDOC-298693154-42 Antwoorden van de Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken op vragen van de leden Van Helvert en Omtzig (beiden CDA) over OPCW Doumadocumenten op Wikileaks

                                   --------------------------

Vraag 1 Heeft u kennis genomen van de OPCW (Organisatie voor het verbod op chemische wapens) Douma-docs op wikileaks?

Antwoord Ja.


Vraag 2 Kunt u voor elk van de 13 documenten uit de eerste 4 releases van Douma-docs nagaan of zij authentiek zijn, door die vraag voor te leggen aan de OPCW en/of de auteurs van de documenten?

Antwoord: Desgevraagd heeft de OPCW aangegeven dat er een onderzoek is ingesteld naar het lekken van vertrouwelijke, interne documenten en emails. Ook de authenticiteit van de bedoelde documenten wordt daarbij meegenomen. Het onderzoek wordt uitgevoerd door onafhankelijke experts. Als het rapport is afgerond, zal het aan de lidstaten ter beschikking worden gesteld.
NB: OPCW geeft nog steeds hetzelfde antwoord als ergens in mei van 2019, toen de eerste leak van Ian Henderson wereldkundig werd.  OPCW 'doet onderzoek naar het lek'.  Dat duurt wel erg lang.


Vraag 3 Indien er documenten vervalst zijn, wordt er dan fatsoenlijk onderzoek naar gedaan om te zien wie de organisatie in diskrediet brengt?
NB: In 2019 heeft het OPCW  nooit beweerd dat de leaks vals waren.  Ze zeiden dat ze  wilden uitzoeken wie er gelekt had. .

Antwoord: Het in vraag 2 genoemde onderzoek richt zich ook op de beantwoording van deze vraag.


Vraag 4 Zijn er belangrijke documenten weggelaten uit de leaks, die een ander beeld op de gang van zaken rond de totstandkoming van het Douma-rapport kunnen werpen?

Antwoord Of Wikileaks al dan niet over meer documenten beschikt dan het nu geopenbaard heeft, kan ik niet beoordelen. Op basis van informatie van de OPCW kan ik wel bevestigen dat het Doumarapport is gebaseerd op aanzienlijk meer documenten. Het beeld dat ontstaat uit deze selectie van (te verifiëren) documenten op Wikileaks lijkt geen recht te doen aan de werkelijke situatie.


Vraag 5 Indien (bijna) alle documenten authentiek blijken te zijn, wat is dan uw oordeel over de gang van zaken rond de totstandkoming van het eindrapport over Douma?

Antwoord Ik heb op basis van de huidige informatie geen reden om te twijfelen aan de gang van zaken rond de totstandkoming van het eindrapport, noch aan de daarin vermelde conclusies. Zowel tijdens de toelichting die de Directeur-Generaal heeft gegeven bij het verschijnen van het rapport als recent naar aanleiding van uw Onze Referentie BZDOC-298693154-42 vragen, is bevestigd dat het rapport tot stand is gekomen door middel van een degelijk wetenschappelijk proces, waarbij verschillende inzichten en rapporten zorgvuldig zijn gewogen. Dat proces heeft geresulteerd in het thans gepubliceerde rapport. Ik wijs er nogmaals op dat Wikileaks slechts een beperkt aantal documenten heeft geopenbaard, wat lijkt te leiden tot een vertekend beeld.
Het is niet aan Wikileaks om een volledig en evenwichtig rapport te maken.  Dat is aan het OPCW.
Wikileaks toont aan dat er waarnemingen zijn die pleiten voor een volledig àndere verklaring van wat daar gebeurde, en Wikileaks zegt dat die gelekte waarnemingen dus onderdeel hadden moeten vormen van het Rapport.  


Vraag 6 Indien het interim-rapport authentiek is en bijna alle experts van de OPCW die in Douma geweest zijn, zich niet met het eindrapport mochten bezig houden, blijft de Nederlandse regering dan op het standpunt staan: “Nederland heeft geen reden om aan te nemen dat belangrijke relevante informatie niet zou zijn meegewogen in de conclusies van het Douma-rapport.

Antwoord Ik zie, op basis van de informatie waarover het kabinet nu beschikt, geen aanleiding om mijn conclusie met betrekking tot het eindrapport m.b.t. de aanval met chemische wapens op Douma te wijzigen. Ik onderschrijf de uitleg van de OPCW dat het rapport op een wetenschappelijk verantwoorde wijze tot stand is gekomen, waarbij alle beschikbare informatie in acht is genomen. Het beeld dat de eindconclusies gemanipuleerd zouden zijn door informatie niet mee te wegen, wordt door de OPCW van de hand gewezen. Voorts dient opgemerkt dat het onderzoek is voortgezet in de periode van 8 maanden tussen het interimrapport en het eindrapport.
Het is algemeen bekend dat in ca 2003 de baas van het OPCW door de VS de laan is uitgestuurd ( onder dreiging dat men wist waar zijn kinderen woonden), omdat deze Bustatis niet bereid was zijn rapporten aan de wensen van de VS aan te passen.
Wilkerson beschrijft hoe dat in zijn tijd ook al gebeurde met rapporten van het Internationaal Atoomgezelschap:  op aandringen van Israel werd Iran toen al verdacht gemaakt in AEIA rapporten).
Minister Blok is bewust naïef en goedgelovig.  Onverantwoord en onwaardig beleid.

Vraag 7 Is er volgens u aanleiding om een onderzoek te laten doen naar de totstandkoming van het Douma rapport?

Antwoord Nee. Zoals ik hierboven heb aangegeven, vind ik de uitleg van de OPCW overtuigend en apprecieer ik de aanpak van deze kwestie door de organisatie zelf. Ik heb volledig vertrouwen in de professionaliteit, onpartijdigheid en objectiviteit van de bevindingen in het FFM (Fact Finding Mission)-rapport over de aanval in Douma.
Wanneer komt het punt dat  het 'vertrouwen hebben in 'onpartijdigheid en objectiviteit van de bevindingen in het FFM (Fact Finding Mission)-rapport ' een bewuste gepleegde misdaad wordt?  "Wir haben es nicht gewusst"  werd niet geaccepteerd


Vraag 8 Kunt u deze vragen een voor een en binnen twee weken beantwoorden?
 
Antwoord Ik heb mijn uiterste best gedaan om aan uw verzoek tegemoet te komen.

         =====================

YouTube: 
BBC producer drops bombshell by saying footage of 2018 Douma chemical attack was 'staged'

zondag 19 januari 2020

Pompeo: We gaan vanaf nu Iran, Rusland en China hard aanpakken!


Pompeo:
"We logen, we bedrogen  en we stalen. 
Er waren zelfs lessen in die vakken ! "


We weten nu dat hij ook loog toen hij zei dat Soleimani was gedood omdat hij plannen had om 4 ambassades aan te vallen.

Dit pracht-exemplaar van de Amerikaanse politiek wordt nog altijd op zijn woord geloofd door ònze ministers. (!)

Amerika heeft een nieuw motief bedacht waaròm ze Soleimani hebben vermoord:

We zijn altijd te soft geweest met onze reacties: sancties etc.
Vanaf nu gaan we hard reageren als landen dingen doen die ons niet aanstaan.

Denk aan de Krim, of aan China met zijn eilandjes.
We reageerden met sancties.
Sancties zijn te soft.
We zullen er flink tegenaan gaan in het vervolg.

Dat heet:
Deterrence.  Afschrikking.
Dat wordt het beleid.
We gaan onze vijanden ontmoedigen:  de kosten van hun ongewenste acties moeten groter worden  dan de baten.

Bronnen:  ( ICH ) (MoA)

woensdag 15 januari 2020

Vladimir Vladimirovich blijft ! Ook na 2024.


Vandaag heeft de Douma zichzelf ontbonden.

Dit is nodig om een grondwets- wijziging mogelijk te maken die de macht verschuift van het president-schap  ( nu is Putin president)  naar het premier-schap.
Het idee is dat Putin wellicht na 2024 premier van Rusland zal worden, en dan toch weer behoorlijk veel macht zal hebben.

Image result for putin

Op TruNews waren de pundits enthousiast. (scherp: 10 minuten lang)
Zij zijn jaloers op Rusland. Op hun voortreffelijke leider.

En ze signaleren het enorme verschil: In Rusland werken de volksvertegenwoordigers mee aan consolidatie van de macht van hun huidige leider.  Maar in de VS zijn juist ook vandaag de Articles of Impeachment opgestuurd, en is de echte poging om hun leider af te zetten, begonnen.


Natuurlijk zijn er meerdere interpretaties.

Jim Jatras op RT: 
Nu wordt Medvedev aan de kant geschoven. Hij was de meest pro-westerse man in het Kremlin. Het kan zijn dat men een hardere confrontatie  met het Westen vreest en zich voorbereidt.

Steven Derix, NRC:
"De Russische constitutie stamt uit 1993 – het jaar waarin toenmalig president Jeltsin zich ontdeed van de opstandige Doema door het parlementsgebouw te laten beschieten met tanks.  De huidige grondwet concentreert alle macht bij de president. […] Straks heeft de premier veel meer macht. Putin kan straks zelf die premier zijn.  "


Tom Vennink, Volkskrant, levert behalve negatieve framing ook wat feitelijke info:

Poetin beloofde zijn grondwetswijzigingen te zullen voorleggen aan de bevolking in een referendum. Poetin zegt dat de volksraadpleging nodig is, omdat zijn plannen ‘zeer serieuze veranderingen in het politieke stelsel’ teweegbrengen.
In die plannen stelt het parlement voortaan de premier aan.
Nu is het de president die de premier benoemt.  
De senaat krijgt zeggenschap over de aanstelling van rechters en bazen van de machtige veiligheidsdiensten.
Ook komt er macht te liggen bij de Staatsraad, nu een adviesorgaan.
Daarnaast zal de Grondwet voorrang krijgen boven het internationaal recht, zodat Rusland uitspraken van bijvoorbeeld het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens naast zich neer kan leggen.

 
Mijn idee:
Op Amerikaans advies kreeg het Presidentschap destijds veel macht.  Putin draait dit terug, in meer democratische richting.    Wat is het motief?   Het kan zijn dat hij op die manier na 2024 tòch nog de grote baas kan blijven, maar dan als premier, zoals Derix schrijft.  
Maar het kan ook zijn dat hij het terugdraaien van al wat hij bereikt heeft, wil bemoeilijken. Hij weet niet wat er nà  hem komt.  Eén machtige president zou alles terug kunnen draaien, maar bij een regeringsvorm met gedeelde machten kun je niet zo snel alles veranderen. 
Ik denk dat in elk geval The Saker tevreden zal zijn, want die roept al jaren om het verdrijven van pro-westerse lieden ( als Medvedev) uit het Kremlin.

dinsdag 14 januari 2020

De NYT over de Soleimani-aanslag.

Vorige nacht las ik MoA over 'Soleimani' en daar werd gelinkt naar dit NYT artikel.

Het leek me aardig om nu eens een lang NYT artikel hier te plaatsen.
Ik schijn me te hebben geregistreerd. Ik weet niet of het voor iedereen zichtbaar is.
De 'transplantatie'  is redelijk gelukt. Enkele foto's verwijderd.

Wat ik me herinner:
1) Het is niet zeker dat die 'Amerikaan'  (mr. Hamid)  door Kitaab Hezbolah -KH- is gedood.
Zo ja: dan was deze dode onbedoeld.
Want: Deze KH pleegde pesterij-aanslagen, altijd zonder doden. 

2) De vergelding was natuurlijk buitensporig: 25 doden.
3) De volks-woede tegenover de Ambassade was oprecht en terecht, gezien de onevenredige vergelding.
4) Bolton had steeds aangedrongen op revanche en  geweld t a v Iran.  
Ook op het doden van Soleimani.
Trump  besloot :  Ik doe het pas als er een Amerikaan wordt gedood.

5) Na de dood van mr. Hamid , èn de bestorming van de Green Zone, hakte Trump de kmnoop door: OK.  je mag Soleimani doden.

NB:  Eén van de schrijvers is Ronen Bergman,  de schrijver van 'Rise and Kill first',  over de 2200 moordaanslagen die de Mossad pleegde in de afgelopen 70 jaar: elk jaar 20 aanslagen.

Hieronder  de NYT:  Dank,  NYT.

 Seven Days in January.

How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran

to the Brink of War -

The New York Times



 

 By Peter Baker, Ronen Bergman,

David D. Kirkpatrick, Julian E. Barnes

and Alissa J. Rubin

 

Published Jan. 11, 2020

Updated Jan. 13, 2020


 


 
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.

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Continue reading the main story
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.

 

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Credit...Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

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 senior military commanders 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 Kataib Hezbollah and injuring at least 50 more.


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Credit...Anmar Khalil/Associated Press


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Credit...Khalid Mohammed/Associated Press

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 nonlethal weapons like tear gas to disperse protesters and the siege ended without bloodshed.

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 started 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.


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Credit...Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times


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Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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“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.


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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.

1:36Video 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.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.


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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 their embassy in Washington and then to Brian H. Hook, the special representative on Iran, 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!”


All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.



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.


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Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

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; Farnaz Fassihi and Maggie Haberman from New York; Rukmini Callimachi from Balchik, Bulgaria, and Bucharest, Romania; 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.


Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent and has covered the last four presidents for The Times and The Washington Post. He also is the author of five books, most recently “Impeachment: An American History.” @peterbakernyt  Facebook
Ronen Bergman is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, based in Tel Aviv. His latest book is “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” published by Random House. 
David D. Kirkpatrick is an international correspondent based in the London bureau. He was previously the Cairo bureau chief, a Washington correspondent and a national correspondent based in New York. @ddknyt
Julian E. Barnes is a national security reporter based in Washington, covering the intelligence agencies. Before joining The Times in 2018, he wrote about security matters for The Wall Street Journal. @julianbarnes  Facebook
Alissa Johannsen Rubin is the Baghdad Bureau chief for The New York Times.  @Alissanyt
A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: 7 Days in January: Secret Orders, a Deadly Strike and a World on EdgeOrder Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe