Trump Faces Swift Backlash for assassinating...
Iran’s most powerful, revered, and feared military commander long said he dreamed of being a martyr for the “resistance.” And in the early hours Friday morning that wish was fulfilled, when an armed American drone assassinated Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
U.S. officials portrayed the targeted killing as a “preemptive” action against the chief of Iran’s elite Qods Force and the leader of the Iraqi Shiite Kata’ib Hezbollah militia traveling with him. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said they were planning an imminent attack that he asserted would have cost “dozens or hundreds of American lives.” President Donald Trump tweeted a picture of an American flag shortly after the United States claimed responsibility for the drone strike. He later tweeted that General Soleimani “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans” and “should have been taken out many years ago.”
But many are raising questions about the administration’s calculations in killing one of Iran’s most popular and iconic symbols of resistance. Questions are also being raised about the apparent disconnect between policymakers in Washington and the realities in Iraq and Iran where, analysts say, American boasting about the assassination of General Soleimani is likely to energize and motivate Iranian-led retaliation. The assassination has also jeopardized U.S. ties to Iraq, and galvanized calls for the expulsion of more than 5,000 American troops deployed there. Iraqis have tried to walk a fine balance between the U.S. and Iran, but the assassination made that balance untenable.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has made some shocking revelations that put the assassination of Soleimani in a completely different light. He told the Iraqi parliament on Sunday that he “was supposed to meet Soleimani on the morning of the day he was killed, he came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi to Iran.” Trita Parsi believes that if this account is true, Trump — perhaps deliberately — acted to scuttle an effort to reduce tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
But it also shows that as the United States was signaling that it would not go to war with Iran — as Trump did earlier this summer — this compelled Saudi Arabia and the UAE to begin quiet negotiations with Iran to resolve their tension. As long as the Saudis and the Emiratis felt they could push the U.S. to go to war with Iran, they had no interest in diplomacy with Iran. The U.S.’s military protection of these countries essentially disincentivized them from pursuing peace. In the past few months, under the impression that Trump had opted against war, they began careful diplomacy with Tehran. The U.S. should have welcomed this development. But the killing of Soleimani may have at the same time killed that effort and once again given Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Emiratis a license to continue recklessness and destabilization.
“Rather than being a blow to Iran, the assassination of Soleimani has fueled nationalist sentiments in Iran and unified the political elite as well as the country. The crowds of mourners in the cities where his casket has been taken were in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.” Said Trita Parsi.
Pompeo’s absurd claim that war with Iran started with the nuclear deal is an astonishing statement. In Pompeo’s view, the U.S. and the entire international community (save Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE) entering an agreement to block Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb was tantamount to starting a war. What threatens Pompeo is not war. It’s peace. He is doing everything he can to ensure that tensions with Iran don’t get resolved. For him, the “war” to start a war with Iran started when the U.S. embarked on a path of resolving its tensions with Iran.