Moon of Alabama – June 22, 2019
Iran will continue to put Trump under pressure. As he wants to avoid a war that would hurt his re-election chances, Iran will use other means to pressure him.
The discussion about Trump’s decision not to ‘retaliate’ for the shoot down of a U.S. drone by Iran is still dominating U.S. media. The accounts of the various ‘sources’ contradict each other. Most likely Trump saw the trap of an ever escalating military conflict and did not fell for it. The Pentagon prepared a strike plan as it always does, but Trump never approved its execution.
One new detail about the White House discussion emerged in a New York Times story on the issue. The Pentagon and the White House are not sure where the Global Hawk drone came down. They do not trust that the U.S. Central Command is telling them the whole truth:
On Friday night, the Pentagon confirmed the presence of a second surveillance aircraft, a Navy P-8A Poseidon, which officials said took photographs of the drone being shot down. But a senior Trump administration official said there was concern inside the United States government about whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, or even the P-8A manned aircraft flown by a military aircrew, actually did violate Iranian airspace at some point. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Mr. Trump called off the strike.
An earlier version of the same NYT story, quoted here, included this:
The delay by United States Central Command in publicly releasing GPS coordinates of the drone when it was shot down — hours after Iran did — and errors in the labeling of the drone’s flight path when the imagery was released, contributed to that doubt, officials said.
A lack of provable “hard evidence” about the location of the drone when it was hit, a defense official said, put the administration in an isolated position at what could easily end up being the start of yet another war with a Middle East adversary — this one with a proven ability to strike back.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif added to the doubt when he gave the exact point where the drone was targeted:
Javad Zarif @JZarif – 18:20 utc · 20 Jun 2019
At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace. It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59’43″N 57°02’25″E) near Kouh-e Mobarak.
We’ve retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.
Shortly before Zarif posted the above, the Iranian Fars news agency distributed a video from the shoot down and an hour later a video that showed the flight path of the U.S. drone. Yesterday Iran retrieved debris of the drone and distributed photos of it. Experts said that the material is genuine.
Today Javiad Zarif posted an even more detailed flight path of the drone:
Javad Zarif @JZarif – 14:01 utc – 22 Jun 2019
For more visual detail on the path, location, and point of impact of the U.S. military drone Iran shot down on Thursday, and of the waters over which it was flying, see these maps and coordinates.
There can be no doubt about where the vessel was when it was brought down.
LEGEND: blue=drone; yellow line=Iranian FIR; red line=Iranian territorial waters; green line=baseline internal waters; yellow dots=Iran radio warnings sent; red dot=point of impact.
(FIR is the Flight Information Region)
He attached seven pictures: