After weeks of warnings from US and Israeli officials about possible Iranian attacks, some Pentagon officials are downplaying the threat.
An unnamed senior Pentagon official told CNN that there is “not a single piece of corroborating intel,” showing that an Iranian attack is imminent.
In another sign of the split in the Pentagon, on Thursday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller ordered the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to return from its deployment in the Middle East. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, has been pushing to extend the Nimitz’s deployment.
Explaining the differences in opinion, another unnamed Pentagon official told CNN: “The intelligence isn’t perfect as you know, it never is, but we do see several planning efforts underway and if even some of them are true and they execute they could kill several Americans.”
The “planning” the US claims to be seeing could be preparations for what Iran might believe is an imminent US or Israeli attack. In November, a report said President Trump considered bombing an Iranian nuclear site. Since then, the US has deployed B-52 bombers to the region on three separate occasions, and a prominent Iranian scientist was killed in an apparent Israeli plot.
On December 20th, rockets were fired at the US embassy in Iraq in Baghdad’s Green Zone. President Trump blamed the attack on Iran and said he would hold Tehran “responsible” if any Americans are killed in the country. But Iran denied responsibility and has explicitly warned its allies in Iraq not to fire on US targets.
There are plenty of groups inside Iraq that have their own reasons to attack the US, including some Shia militias who rejected Iran’s warning. Despite the many Iraqi factions, the US will almost certainly blame any American casualties inside Iraq on Iran.