US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had reportedly warned President Donald Trump of the escalation of Washington-Tehran tensions into an “almost total war” before Trump ordered the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad earlier in the year.
In a bombshell book by journalist Bob Woodward that some sections of it was released on Thursday, Graham is said to have implored Trump not to assassinate the senior Iranian commander and warned that the heinous act would spark an “almost total war.”
Graham cautioned the US president while golfing in Florida a few days before the assassination against taking the “giant step,” which he described as “over the top.”
“This is over the top,” Graham said, according to an excerpt from the book. “How about hitting someone a level below Soleimani, which would be much easier for everyone to absorb?”
The Republican senator warned at that time that the targeted killing of Soleimani would trigger an “almost total war,” and was like going from “playing $10 blackjack to $10,000-a-hand blackjack."
General Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), was assassinated in a US airstrike at Baghdad airport on January 3, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) counter-terrorism force, and a number of their companions.
The strike came while General Soleimani was on an official visit to the Iraqi capital.
Both commanders were extremely popular because of the key role they played in eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
The US assassination of General Soleimani drew a wave of condemnation from officials and movements across the world, and triggered furious public protests in denunciation of the heinous act.
The IRGC fired volleys of ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq on January 8. According to the US Defense Department, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrikes. The Corps, however, says Washington uses the term to mask the number of the Americans, who perished during the retaliation.
Iran has also issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining Trump, who ordered the assassination, and several other US military and political leaders behind the strike.
Anti-American sentiments have been running high in Iraq after the two senior commanders were assassinated in Baghdad, with Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passing a bill on January 5 that mandated the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.
Iraqi resistance groups have pledged to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.