General Keane on US-Iran tensions amid airstrike fallout
Fox News senior strategic analyst Gen. Jack Keane reacts to the US airstrike that killed IRan Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani.
Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated in early January after US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
The attack also killed Iraq's Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).
In response, Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two US bases.
All of that was happening on Iraqi soil, a nation once again caught up between a regional giant and a military superpower.
Trump is adamant that the attack was "self-defence" and that Soleimani posed an imminent threat - which was contradicted by Iran and the Iraqi prime minister.
And Iran says it's delivered "a slap in the face" with a missile strike which will usher in the end of US presence in the Middle East.
So is the latest US-Iran crisis really over? Will the US heed calls for its forces to leave Iraq?
Al Jazeera was given rare access to the sprawling Ain al-Assad base after the Iranian strike. We asked the US-led coalition if the threats from Iran-backed militias still loom. And in a rare TV appearance, Mohammad Mohie, spokesman of the Iran-backed Shia paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah, talks to Al Jazeera.
Asked about the US government calling Kataib Hezbollah a threat to Iraq's peace and security, Mohie says: "We are Iraqis and from Iraqi soil. We have confronted US troops; they were occupation troops according to the UN. After 2003, the US troops were occupation troops so it was the right of the Iraqi people to resist. And with our joint efforts we expelled US troops. So the return of the US troops to this area is stirring problems by inciting violence and supporting terrorist groups and Takfiris. Those groups threaten the security of the region, this is the main reason for instability in the Middle East and it is the main threat to everyone's security. We are the sons of this area, we have the right to defend it, to live in it peacefully." Four Iraqi soldiers have been injured after rockets were fired at Balad airbase on Sunday night.
The facility, north of Baghdad, also hosts American forces.
It comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, and the Iraqi parliament now wants to expel all foreign troops.
But in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, there are fears any withdrawal could lead to a resurgence of ISIL (ISIS).
Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from Qara Chokh mountain range in northern Iraq. Pope Francis on Thursday warned that increasing tensions between the US and Iran were setting the stage for a broader conflict in the Middle East while jeopardising efforts to rebuild Iraq.
#PopeFrancis #USIranCrisis Dozens of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, angered over deadly U.S. airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed militia. (Dec. 31)
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. >> ALSO WITH US THIS EVENING. CHAIRMAN OF THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR AND FOX NEWS SENIOR STRATEGIC ANALYST. GENERAL, GOOD TO SEE YOU THIS EVENING. GOOD TO BE HERE. I WANT TO START WITH THIS. THIS IS A SOUND BITE FROM THE FORMER CIA DIRECTOR MIKE MOREL. HERE'S WHAT HE SAID ABOUT WHAT WE CAN ALL EXPECT NOW. WATCH. >> THE PROBLEM IS THAT COMES IN A VERY HIGH COST. NUMBER ONE, THERE WILL BE DEAD AMERICANS, DID CIVILIAN AMERICANS AS A RESULT OF THIS, POSSIBLY OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS IN ANY PLACE WHERE IRAN HAS ITS PROXIES, IRAQ IS THE MOST LIKELY PLACE. BUT ALSO LEBANON, BAHRAIN, OTHER PLACES IN THE MIDDLE EAST. >> Martha: DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? >> I THINK THE IRANIANS ARE GOING TO RETALIATE, THAT'S FOR SURE. WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE IRANIANS SO OUR VIEWERS CAN UNDERSTAND THE, THE CIVIL UNREST DRIVEN BY THE SANCTIONS HAS REALLY GOT THE IRANIANS BACK ON THEIR HEELS. IT SPIKED IN NOVEMBER. THERE IS NOTHING MORE THREATENING TO THE REGIME THAN THEIR OWN PEOPLE. THAT HAS WHAT HAS GOT THEIR CONCERN. THEY ARE DETERMINED TO CREATE AS MUCH CRISIS AS THEY CAN FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO PUT PRESSURE ON PRESIDENT TRUMP TO BACK OFF SANCTIONS AND THAT IS WHY, AS YOU MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION WITH OUR FORMER PREVIOUS GUEST, WHY THEY HAVE BEEN ESCALATING MILITARY ACTIONS THAT CREATE THAT CRISIS TO PRESSURE THE PRESIDENT. BUT THE PROBLEM IS THEY CROSSED A RED LINE WITH THIS PRESIDENT WHEN HE EXERCISED ENORMOUS CONSTRAINT IN NOT TAKING PROVOCATION BUT SAID DON'T KILL ANY AMERICANS. WHEN HE DID, HE ACTED VERY STRONGLY AS WE'VE SEEN. >> Martha: THE SUGGESTION THAT THERE IS NO STRATEGY IS WHEN YOU HEAR A LOT. STARTED HEARING IT LAST NIGHT AND ALL THROUGH TODAY, BUT IT STRIKES ME THAT IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT IN THE PRIOR ADMINISTRATION, STRATEGY WAS TO NEGOTIATE A DEAL. AND TO TRY TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT THE ESCALATED THROUGH THAT AVENUE. BUT CLEARLY THIS PRESIDENT HAS A DIFFERENT WAY OF GOING ABOUT IT. AS I SAID AT THE TOP, HE IS THE FIRST ONE TO TAKE OUT SOLEIMANI BUT SOMETHING THESE OTHER PRESIDENTS, PRESIDENT OBAMA, PRESIDENT BUSH HAD, I'D IMAGINE. >> IT'S A DEFINITE STRATEGY HERE. THIS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION LOOK AT THE APPEASEMENT STRATEGY AS I WOULD DEFINE IT, THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA HAD AS A SEMINAL FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVE, HIS NIXON MOMENT GOING TO CHINA IS WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO ACHIEVE. HE THOUGHT BY APPEASING THE IRANIANS, THE NUCLEAR DEAL THE CENTERPIECE OF IT, THAT THEY WOULD ACT RESPONSIBLY AND JOIN THEIR COMMUNITY OF RESPONSIBLE NATIONS AND WHAT DID WE GET? WE GOT $130 BILLION PUT IN THEIR HANDS, FUELING THE CIVIL WARS IN SYRIA AND YEMEN, HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS OF ROCKETS IN LEBANON. THE MIDDLE EAST WAS PUT ON FIRE AND AS A RESULT OF IT, THIS ADMINISTRATION CAME IN AND FOR THE MENTALLY REJECTED THAT STRATEGY AND WITH OUR ALLIES DEFINITELY HAD AS A STRATEGY. AS TO CONFRONT THE IRANIANS USING DIPLOMATIC AND ECONOMIC MEANS TO THE BRING THEM BACK TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE TO CURB THEIR BEHAVIOR IN THE REGION. THAT IS A SOUND STRATEGY. THAT'S WHAT THIS ADMINISTRATION IS ABOUT. TO SAY THEY DON'T HAVE ONE IS NONSENSE. >> Martha: WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE BUT WE NOTICED WE HAVE OUR MILITARY ON ALERT IN ITALY FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF POTENTIALLY GOING INTO PROTECT OUR ASSETS AND EMPHASES IN LEBANON AND YOU SAY RETALIATION IS LIKELY -- >> THEY ARE GOING TO GO IN AND IN THE EVENT THERE HAS TO BE AN EVACUATION AND PRESSURE IS PUT. GOING TO LEBANON TO EVACUATE THE EMBASSY AND THE 82ND WOULD GO TO EVACUATE THE EMBASSY.