President Donald Trump threatened Iran Tuesday, warning the country’s leaders they will be held responsible for any death or destruction after protestors attacked the US embassy in Baghdad.
“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” Trump tweeted from Florida. “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”
And later Tuesday, while speaking with reporters as he entered a New Year’s Eve gala at Mar-a-Lago, the President said he doesn’t want war but that if it comes to conflict, Iran wouldn’t last long.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea for Iran,” Trump said, adding later that a potential conflict “would go very quickly.”
Protesters attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, scaling the walls and forcing the gates of the compound, as hundreds demonstrated against American airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq.
As night fell, protestors set up tents near the embassy, suggesting another day of upheaval lies ahead. Iraqi counterterrorism forces were deployed around the perimeter of the embassy, while the Pentagon announced additional Marines would be sent to Baghdad and more troops would be deployed to the Middle East in response to the embassy crisis.
‘It’s going to be tense’
Trump stressed safety in a set of tweets and drew a direct comparison to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, even as a senior administration official told CNN the White House is “very concerned” about the potential for further escalation come New Year’s Day morning.
“Tomorrow, during the daytime, it’s going to be tense,” the official said.
Another senior administration official said the administration is “not going to assume it’s an escalation, but also is not going to be unaware” of the potential for further deterioration with Iran, adding that “it’s a complicated situation.”
The administration hopes everything will calm down and go back to normal, the official said, but is prepared for all contingencies and is keeping a close eye on the situation.