KEY POINTS

  • Trump warned of striking back harder if Iran retaliated
  • Iran to no longer abide by any limits of 2015 nuclear deal
  • Democrats slammed Trump saying he is not a 'dictator'

President Donald Trump threatened to sanction Iraq "like they’ve never seen before ever" after the country's parliament called on American and other foreign troops to leave. Baghdad, said Trump sounding more like a bully than a national leader dealing with an ally, will have to pay Washington for building the huge airbase in Iraq if the troops are asked to leave.

“We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,” Trump was quoted as saying in news reports. That is language Trump has usually reserved for his enemies, including notably Iran, whose economy has been crippled by U.S. sanctions.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build, long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump told reporters on board the Air Force One, throwing all diplomatic niceties and caution to the winds.

Reports said U.S. officials had unsuccessfully tried to stop the vote by the Iraqi parliament. Iraq's prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has scheduled a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller on Monday to discuss America's role in Iraq. He is expected to ask the U.S. troops to leave the country in line with the parliament resolution, NBC News reported.

Iraq's parliament could not have taken a different track as the various Iran-backed Shiite militias exert huge influence in the constitutional body. The Popular Mobilization Forces, recognized as part of the Iraqi security forces since 2016 when they joined the fight against the Islamic State, have been wanting U.S. troops out of the country since the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike. 

The decision to assassinate Gen. Soleimani has been heavily criticized by Democratic lawmakers who said they were not notified by the administration and who wanted to be briefed on future plans to deal with any retaliation from Iran. Tehran has promised, "harsh revenge" for the killing of Gen. Soleimani.

Trump on Monday tweeted, clearly answering those questions: "These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!"

Ever since the assassination, Trump has been engaged in a war of words with the Iranian government. On Saturday, Trump said that the U.S. will attack 52 sites important to Iran and its culture if Tehran retaliates against Americans or American assets.

Vowing specific military action against Iran, Trump said, "We have ... targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture" and "if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets... Iran itself, will be hit very fast and very hard." 

The string of tweets was posted after the White House formally notified Congress of the U.S. operation that killed Gen. Soleimani on Thursday.

An Iranian government minister denounced Trump as "a terrorist in a suit" after he threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites, calling it a war crime. Trump stood by what he said while talking to reporters aboard Air Force One Sunday evening.

"They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way," Trump told reporters in Air Force One.

Meanwhile, amid the contentious and partisan politics in Washington, Trump has received support for the killing of Gen. Soleimani from military leaders. On Saturday former NATO commander and U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark defended Trump's threat of striking Iran's cultural sites.

"It’s probably a good statement by the president. I think the administration understands that there’s a serious risk of consequences here. I think they understand it’s unlikely the Iranian regime will now come hat in hand to the negotiating table, ‘OK you killed our number two guy, let’s talk, we’re ready to surrender.’ They’re not going to do that," Clark told Cupp on S.E. Cupp Unfiltered Saturday.

Even as Democratic presidential candidate hopefuls and other party leaders acknowledge the key role of Gen. Qasem Soleimani in orchestrating attacks against American troops and American allies, they also laid down a barrage of criticism on the President, citing legal concerns and warning of an escalating conflict in the Middle East.

Democrats lashed out at Trump after his tweets, saying you're not a "dictator." Congressional Democrat Sen. Chris Van Hollen claimed that the White House manipulated intel before the airstrikes. Many politicians have also questioned whether the attack was warranted and said the reasons behind the airstrike did not seem to be very clear.

Amid the rising tensions, Iran said Sunday it will end its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium, which was made as part of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, as per NBC News.

Iranian Foreign minister Javad Zarif confirmed the news on Twitter and said there "will no longer be any restriction on number of centrifuges."

Tensions began rising between the two countries since May 2018, when Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed sanctions, leaving Iran's economy in tatters. Even though the European allies of the U.S. tried to salvage the deal, Trump remained adamant about his decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions.

On Monday, Esmail Ghaani, the Iranian general named to replace Soleimani, told state television that “actions will be taken” to avenge the death of his predecessor, Fox News reported.

In response to a series of threats that Iran has issued to the U.S., Trump has vowed that any Iranian strike would be met with a "disproportionate" response.