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A critical week for Donald Trump after the assassination of Iran's General Qassem Suleimani

Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran's top general Qassem Suleimani. Credit: AP

While a furious debate about the wisdom and morality of assassinating Qassem Suleimani has broken out in Washington, one man is having no second thoughts.

Indeed the Commander-in-Chief is threatening to strike another 52 Iranian targets if Tehran dares to retaliate for the US drone strike that killed its key military commander.

President Trump evidently is not someone who shares the worries of the rest of the world.

He’s playing golf, staying at his Florida resort, and tweeting out threats and warnings that appear to be in breach of the Geneva Convention.

Not exactly a strategy to win over European allies.

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The idea that America would seek to bomb Iran’s cultural treasures would seem preposterous, more akin to nihilistic so-called Islamic State-style tactics than to US military traditions.

Indeed, it would be an unambiguous war crime.

The Geneva Convention makes clear that there is no justification for attacking “historic monuments,works of art or places of worship which constitute cultural or spiritual heritage".

The key question is how Iran will seek revenge and what America’s next move would be.

The lights will be blazing at the Pentagon as officials focus on force protection and seek to strengthen America’s military and diplomatic facilities throughout the Middle East.

General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US air strike in Baghdad. Credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

But even in death, Suleimani may be on the brink of his greatest success.

It seems possible that Iraq’s parliament - deeply offended by a drone attack that was a clear violation of its sovereignty - will demand that US troops leave the country and never return.

That would put a fractured and weak Iraq firmly in Tehran’s orbit.

It would be a decisive blow for American prestige and leverage in the region.

Suleimani’s personal triumph will not have been saving the Assad regime in Damascus, but - posthumously - defeating US forces in Iraq.

A burning vehicle at Baghdad International Airport following an air strike. Credit: Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP

In Washington, the political row is only just beginning.

Democrats accuse the White House of taking America down a perilous and potentially catastrophic path to war.

There are reports that President Trump’s justification for the Suleimani assassination may be built on sand.

A highly respected New York Times reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, says her sources claim the intelligence case for the strike was “razor thin.”

In other words, the claim that Suleimani was about to launch an attack on US forces may be just educated guesswork by America's spy agencies.

Even more alarmingly, there are reports that when White House officials outlined the options to the President, the killing of Suleimani was seen as a outlier, a course of action that he would surely reject.

It was only included to make the other options more palatable.

When Trump chose the Suleimani strike, Pentagon and CIA officials were shocked.

The fate of the Middle East depends on two unpredictable leaders, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Donald Trump. Credit: (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

The coming week will be a critical one for Trump.

Congress is back in session, and his trial in the Senate may begin within days.

At the same time, all eyes will be on Iran.

The rulers in Tehran have been put on notice that 52 of their most prized facilities may be the next US targets.

Will that deter Iran or make it lash out?

The fate of the Middle East depends on the calculations and risk appetite of two unpredictable leaders, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Donald Trump.

The Supreme Leader versus the Commander-in-Chief.

The most powerful military in the world versus the asymmetrical cunning of the Quds Force.