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Supporters of the Popular Mobilization Forces commemorate the anniversary of the killing of Qassem Soleimani Supporters of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces commemorate the anniversary of the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Najaf, Iraq, Jan. 4, 2021 (AP photo by Anmar Khalil).

Will Trump’s Final Act Be a Needless War With Iran?

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week.

The U.S.S. Nimitz was leaving the Middle East, until it wasn’t. The Pentagon’s abrupt reversal of its move late last week to send the aircraft carrier home is the latest sign of an ominous standoff with Iran in the last, chaotic days of Donald Trump’s presidency. A year ago, Trump ordered the brazen drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iran’s top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Fears that it would start a full-fledged war dissipated after Iran made a calculated show of retaliation, firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. There were no deaths or immediate reported casualties, although the Pentagon later disclosed that more than 100 American soldiers had suffered traumatic brain injuries in the attacks. ...

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