Iran, Spain, Carlos Ghosn: Your Tuesday Briefing

Iran, Spain, Carlos Ghosn: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the latest developments in the Iran crisis, a big day in Spanish politics and the franchisee who defied 7-Eleven in Japan.

Follow our live updates here.

The calls for revenge came as millions poured into the streets of Tehran to mourn the general, according to state-run news outlets. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has told advisers that any reprisals must be direct, proportional and openly carried out by Iran — a startling departure for a leadership that typically carries out attacks via regional proxy forces.

How, or even if, Iran may retaliate against the United States is still a matter of speculation. But the crisis had already strained relations between the United States and its European allies — Britain, France and Germany — that were among the nations to strike a now-imperiled nuclear accord with Iran in 2015.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is walking an especially fine line. Britain will be ever more dependent on its economic relationship with the U.S. after it leaves the European Union later this month. Yet it could also be exposed if tensions arise between the U.S. and the major European powers over Iran.

Related: Amid a rapid U.S. troop mobilization and widespread confusion about the Trump administration’s Iran strategy, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that a letter about U.S. forces preparing to leave Iraq was a draft that had been released by mistake.

Trump’s threat: Mr. Esper also contradicted President Trump’s earlier threat to strike cultural sites in Iran, acknowledging that doing so would be a war crime. (Our art critics said that would not only be illegal, but also barbaric.)

Pedro Sánchez, a caretaker Socialist prime minister, was expected to be narrowly voted into office by Spain’s Parliament today, breaking months of political deadlock and allowing him to form the first coalition government since the country returned to democracy in the 1970s.

That coalition — between the Socialists and Unidas Podemos, a far-left party — would make Spain one of the few countries in Europe with a left-wing government.

Mr. Sánchez “still needs to announce exactly what ministries Podemos will hold,” says Raphael Minder, our Spain and Portugal correspondent. “But at least Spain should now have a working government that can present a new budget etc., rather than the caretaker administration that it has had for almost a year.”

Background: Mr. Sánchez’s Socialist Party has won two national elections since April but has been unable to secure a parliamentary majority. Together, the Socialists and Unidas Podemas hold only 155 of Parliament’s 350 seats.

What’s next: The coalition’s survival may hinge upon Mr. Sánchez’s ability to help end Spain’s long-simmering conflict over Catalonia, the restive northeastern region that is governed by separatists. He has pledged to hold a fresh round of talks with them, prompting criticism from right-wing politicians who say he is paving the way for Spain’s dissolution.

Looking ahead: Damaging testimony from Mr. Bolton could place Mr. Trump at greater risk in the Senate, where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove him from office (Republicans control 53 of the chamber’s 100 seats). Here’s how impeachment works.

Cook: Use what you have on hand with Alison Roman’s flexible recipe for spicy white bean stew with broccoli rabe. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Listen: Lloyd Barnes, known as Wackie, is behind one of the longest-running reggae studios in the U.S. As he prepares for his next chapter, he wants to ensure that its spirit lives on.

Smarter Living: If you’re considering a job or career change — or just thinking through whether your job matches your values — stop asking “why” questions, and start asking “what” questions.

When President Trump ordered an attack on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran from Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, it wasn’t the first time the Sunshine State had featured in an American-Iranian drama.

In early 1979, Iran’s shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi — who had stayed in power thanks partly to a C.I.A.-led coup in 1953 — fled a domestic uprising against his iron-fisted rule. For help relocating him to the United States, American officials turned to David Rockefeller, a banker who considered the deposed shah a prized client.

Iranian students retaliated days later by seizing the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and taking 50 Americans hostage. The shah promptly left the United States, but the hostage crisis would last 444 days and cast a pall over U.S.-Iran relations for decades.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Mike

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Mike wrote today’s Back Story, based on reporting by David D. Kirkpatrick. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about why Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was a U.S. target.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Out in the open (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Elle magazine profiled our investigations editor, Rebecca Corbett, who oversees some of The Times’s most ambitious work. She talked about spotting and mentoring talented reporters, guiding the Harvey Weinstein investigation and being powered by snacks.

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