Democrats the ‘only ones mourning loss’ of Suleimani
Nikki Haley, formerly ambassador to the United Nations and in many eyes a future Republican presidential candidate, has claimed the “only” people “mourning the loss” of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, killed by a US airstrike, are “Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates”.
“You don’t see anyone standing up for Iran,” Haley told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “You’re not hearing any of the Gulf [states], you’re not hearing China, you’re not hearing Russia. The only ones that are mourning the loss of Suleimani are Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates.”
The assassination of Suleimani, ordered by Donald Trump, has fueled a crisis in US relations with Iran and the Middle East in general.
Democrats in the race for the presidential nomination and congressional leadership have reacted cautiously to the Suleimani strike, making clear their belief the general was responsible for malign activity by Iran and American deaths but criticising the president’s decision-making.
Congress was not notified in advance of the strike in Baghdad and the notification sent subsequently, under the War Powers Act of 1973, was classified.
As administration figures, including the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, sought to justify the strike without saying what threat had prompted it, or how imminent that threat was, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called for “an immediate, comprehensive briefing of the full Congress on military engagement related to Iran and next steps under consideration”.
Pelosi and the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, a presidential candidate, have introduced legislation to stop Trump attacking Iran without congressional approval. Defense chiefs are expected to brief Congress behind closed doors on Wednesday.
Some Democratic responses to the strike have been more explicitly political. On Sunday, the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren told NBC: “We’ve been at war for 20 years in the Middle East and now, [Trump is] talking about expanding that war.”
Warren also accused Trump of carrying out the strike on Suleimani to distract from his own impeachment.
“We know that Donald Trump was very upset about this upcoming impeachment trial, but look what he’s doing now. He is taking us to the edge of war,” she said
Fox News host Hannity is a stalwart Trump supporter, closely tied to the White House. On Tuesday morning, CNN’s Oliver Darcy considered Hannity’s monologue on Iran on Monday’s show, which seemed to betray detailed knowledge of US plans.
Saying the US “won’t be going with boots on the ground in Iran. That’s not going to happen,” Hannity listed potential targets for future strikes.
“They got three major oil refineries and we know where they are,” he said. “They have nuclear facilities, we know where they are.”
Darcy asked: “Has Hannity been briefed? Does he know more about the US’s plans with regard to Iran than some members of Congress?”
Haley followed her partisan attack over a matter of foreign policy by telling Hannity “partisan politics should stop when it comes to foreign policy”.
“This is about America United,” she said. “We need to be completely behind the president [and] what he did, because every one of those countries are watching our news media right now, seeing what everyone is saying.
“This is a moment of strength for the United States. It’s a moment of strength for President Trump.”
There has been speculation that Haley, who has published a book and toured TV studios making claims that play well with the Republican base, could replace Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate in this year’s election.
Amid criticism of her remarks to Hannity, former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote: “Translation: Please put me on the ticket, Mr President.”