Soleimani, the commander of an elite brigade in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was killed in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. Iran responded later by firing missiles at US targets in Iraq. Tension has escalated again in recent weeks. Iranian officials and US President Donald Trump have launched threatening language. It is unclear if Trump was informed of the decision to withdraw Nimitz.
Miller ignores the army command’s request with his decision. General Kenneth F Mackenzie Jr., who oversees US forces in the area, wanted to extend Nimitz’s deployment. Other senior military personnel could have been surprised by the minister’s decision to return the aircraft carrier to its home port.
The departure of Nimitz comes at a delicate time. US intelligence agencies believe that Iran and its allies may be preparing an attack to avenge the killing of Soleimani. Iranian air defenses and other units are said to be on high alert. More missiles and drones are said to have been transferred to neighboring Iraq.
Insiders say it is unclear whether the Iranians intend to attack US forces or prepare to defend themselves against any US attack. This is a classic security dilemma. Former senior envoy Brett McGurk told the newspaper that maneuvers on either side could be misinterpreted and this increases the potential for miscalculation.
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