Former Foreign Secretary: President Trump had to send a signal to Iran

7 January 2020, 08:14 | Updated: 7 January 2020, 09:50

Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told LBC that Donald Trump had to send a signal to Iran over the actions of General Qassem Soleimani.

Commentators in the UK have been concerned about the potential for escalation of the tension in the Middle East following the US airstrike last week.

But speaking to Iain Dale, Sir Malcolm backed the President of the US.

He said: "I don't think people should see this as an isolated aberration by Donald Trump. I'm no admirer of Donald Trump. I don't admire most of what he's done on foreign policy.

"But the question of what happened to Soleimani was not simply a spasm of anger by him or anyone else.

"Soleimani has been hyperactive over the last few years in essentially destabilising the Middle East. He's become a threat, not just to the US but also to most of the other countries in the region.

"I think what tipped the balance on this occasion was for a very specific American reason. Once the Iraqi militia, who come indirectly under the control of Soleimani, started attacking the American embassy in Baghdad which they did last week, that brought back memories of every single American of what happened after the fall of the Shah in Iran, when the American embassy was overrun by Iranian zealots and I think something like 150 Americans were held hostage for over a year or so.

"That was a humiliation for the United States and I think that is something which Trump was unable to ignore, because there was a slight risk that kind of activity was at risk of being repeated.

"They had to send a signal. Whether they overdid it or not, that is a judgement that will be made by history."

Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the US had to send a signal over General Soleimani
Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the US had to send a signal over General Soleimani. Picture: PA

Asked what will happen next, Sir Malcolm said Iran have a difficult decision to make.

He stated: "The Iranians have a quandry. They cannot contemplate an all-out war with the United States, because they would lose. The Iranians are relatively weak compared with American military strength.

"And the Iranian economy is in a terrible mess, in part because of the sanctions placed on them by the United States themselves."

Watch the interview at the top of the page.