Donald Trump was forced Tuesday to separate from his defense minister Patrick Shanahan, who gave up the job for family reasons, in the midst of mounting tensions with Iran, accused by Washington of attacking oil tankers at sea. ‘Oman.
Shanahan has decided to “devote more time to his family,” tweeted the US president, who has chosen army secretary Mark Esper as the new interim defense minister.
The US executive no longer has a full-fledged defense minister since Jim Mattis’ resounding resignation in December 2018 amid deep disagreements with Trump.
Mr. Shanahan confirmed that he had given up this position to prevent his children from “reliving a traumatic chapter” and “reopening wounds” that took “years to heal”.
The US Federal Police conducts personality investigations of all high-level government candidates and, in the case of Patrick Shanahan, this process has stumbled on mutual accusations of domestic violence between him and his ex-wife in the early 2010s .
– Climbing tensions –
“It’s a difficult time for Pat,” said Donald Trump on Tuesday, en route to a public launch meeting of his second presidential campaign.
The master of the White House praised Mark Esper’s “great experience” and downplayed the consequences of this new succession at the head of the Pentagon.
This departure, however, falls badly for the US President, at a time when the United States has further strengthened its military capabilities in the Middle East to respond to what they describe as “hostile behavior of the Iranian forces.”
Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer regretted on Tuesday what he called the “Shanahan fiasco” and “government chaos”.
“We are in a very sensitive phase with all that is happening in Iran, all these provocations, and it is deplorable not to have a defense minister,” he said.
Prior to his resignation, Mr. Shanahan authorized Monday the dispatch of 1,000 additional troops “for defensive purposes to respond to air, sea and land threats in the Middle East”.
So it was the head of diplomacy, Mike Pompeo, who went to Tampa Tuesday to defend, with the officials of the US Central Military Command, the sending of these reinforcements.
This deployment must “convince the Islamic Government of Iran that we are determined and dissuade them from (committing) new aggression in the region,” he said. “We must be ready to respond to any threat from Iran,” he added, while assuring that “President Trump does not (want) the war.”
“We are very prepared, whatever the case may be,” Trump said of Iran, a country he called a “nation of terror.”
Tehran, which has denied any responsibility for the tanker attack, has repeatedly threatened in the past to block the Strait of Hormuz in the event of a confrontation with the United States.
Iran and the United States have been engaged in a standoff since the unilateral US withdrawal in 2018 of the nuclear deal and the reinstatement of US economic sanctions in Tehran. Attacks on tankers in May and June in the Gulf region, attributed by Washington to Iran, which has denied, have thrown oil on the flames.
– “Network” of spies –
Iran, for its part, has claimed to have dismantled a “new network” of spies acting on behalf of the United States.
“Based on our own intelligence and clues collected in US services, we recently discovered new recruits hired by the Americans and dismantled this new network,” Iran’s official news agency Irna said.
Some spies in the network set up, according to Irna, by the CIA, have already been arrested and brought to justice. The agency, however, gives no figures and does not specify the nationality of the suspects.
Prior to the announcement of the new US reinforcements, Tehran announced that its low-enriched uranium reserves would rise from June 27 above the limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.
Result of intense diplomatic efforts between Iran and the Group of Six (Germany, China, United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia), the agreement aims to severely limit the Tehran nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions. But the reinstatement of US sanctions deprives Iran of the benefits it expected from this pact.
So far, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has certified that Iran is acting in accordance with its commitments.