Iran's chief military strategist assassinated by Trump's order: 'terrible revenge' promised in response
General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Al-Quds Special Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed in Iraq in a US airstrike. The Pentagon has confirmed that Soleimani was killed on the orders of US President Donald Trump. Writes about it with the BBC.
Iran has promised to brutally avenge the United States for the murder of one of the most influential Iranian military leaders.
The killing of Suleimani could lead to a sharp escalation of tension between Iran, the United States and its allies in the region of Israel and Saudi Arabia, experts warn. Following the airstrike, world oil prices rose 4%.
Why is it important
Suleimani headed the elite al-Quds unit, considered the gray eminence behind Iran's exorbitant ambitions in the Middle East, and de facto foreign minister on all matters of war and peace.
In many ways, he was considered the main architect of the war waged by President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the ongoing conflict in Iraq, the fight against jihadists from the Islamic State and many other important military campaigns. This gray-haired commander had tremendous power; Many hated him, but just as many revered him - myths and memes about him in social networks only multiplied.
It was he who was believed to have convinced Vladimir Putin's Russia to intervene in the conflict in Syria, which changed alignment of forces in the region.
His death marks an important turning point in the serious crisis that already exists between the United States, its allies and Iran. Surely this will lead to escalation and retaliatory actions, which will set an even more dangerous course in this already troubled region.
How did it happen
During the airstrike, Suleymani was in a car at the airport in Baghdad. The attack on the convoy of cars was allegedly caused by drones. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps reported that he died as a result of a strike from American helicopters.
Earlier it was reported that three missiles exploded in the area of Baghdad Airport. Local police said one person was killed and nine more injured.
The New York Post, citing anonymous military sources, reports that seven people were killed as a result of the attacks. According to the newspaper, airstrikes were made on two machines. It was possible to hit the target from the second approach: before that, three missiles were fired, but they did no harm.
The US defense department said the strike was aimed at preventing further attacks from Iran: "The United States will continue to take all necessary actions to protect our people and our interests around the world."
"As directed by the president, the US military took decisive defensive action to protect US personnel overseas, killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Al-Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-listed foreign terrorist organization," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Suleymani air strike was launched a few days after protesters' attempts in Baghdad to storm the US embassy. In Washington, they said that the attack on the diplomatic mission was carried out by order of General Suleymani.
According to the US military, Kassem Suleimani and his special forces are responsible for the deaths of hundreds and injuries of thousands of US military, as well as members of the international coalition.
Shortly after reports of the death of the general appeared, President Donald Trump posted an image of the American flag on his Twitter page without commenting on it.
Together with Suleimani, the leader and founder of the paramilitary Iraqi Shiite group Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed. According to the US, Kataib Hezbollah is closely associated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and has repeatedly received Iranian assistance and support, which it used to attack coalition forces.
There are also reports that a number of leaders of the group were captured by the US military in Baghdad, but there is no confirmation of this information yet.
Tehran summoned a representative from the Swiss Embassy, who represents US interests in Iran, to protest over the outbreak of war in neighboring Iraq.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened the United States with terrible revenge for the murder of Suleimani and declared a three-day mourning in the country.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the incident an extremely dangerous and stupid escalation: "The United States is responsible for all the consequences of its robbery adventurism."
A few hours after the death of Soleimani, senior adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a warning on Telegram: “Trump, with his adventure, dragged the United States into an extremely dangerous situation in the region. Anyone who crosses the red line must be prepared for the consequences. "
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, backed by Iran, reacted to the US airstrike, saying it was "a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty."
“The martyrdom was his reward for the unceasing activity that he has been doing all these years,” the Iranian leader's official Twitter said. - Although he left, but by the will of Allah, his work and his path will not stop. Terrible revenge awaits the criminals who stained their dirty hands with his blood and other martyrs last night. ”
Who is Kassem Suleimani
Since 1998, Qasem Soleimani headed the Al-Quds special unit, which conducts covert operations abroad. The al-Quds unit reports directly to the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.
The special unit was involved in the Syrian conflict, supporting Bashar al-Assad's forces and arming thousands of Shiite fighters who fought on their side. In Iraq, this special unit assisted the Shia paramilitaries who opposed the Islamic State group. In addition, Al-Quds and Suleimani personally were accused of brutal crackdown in Iraq.
Thanks to these military conflicts, the once non-public Suleimani has become a celebrity in Iran.
The US calls Al-Quds and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps “Iran's primary vehicle for cultivating and supporting” US-designated terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, providing funding, training, supply of weapons and equipment.
In April, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognized the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its al-Quds unit as a foreign terrorist organization.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already announced that Brigadier General Ismail Kaani will become the new commander of this elite unit. Kaani, as reported by the Iranian state news agency, was the second person after Suleimani.
The Americans and their allies in Israel and the West for many years closely watched the movements of Suleimani. It seems that he was under their guns before, but the fact that the Americans pulled the trigger this time suggests that President Trump believes that the benefits outweigh the risks; that the Iranian regime is so weakened by isolation, economic sanctions and recent mass demonstrations that it will release anger, but no serious strategic threats will follow.
Suleimani was an extremely influential figure in Iran. He was a strategist of Iran. Perhaps Kassem left behind a plan of action in the event of his murder. The Iranian regime definitely wants to respond to its demise in order to show that it can defend the positions in the Middle East that Suleimani so carefully built outside the country.
USA: doubts, disagreements, shock, expectation of reaction
The killing of Suleimani divided the American establishment. Democrats in Congress questioned the legality of the operation.
"Do we understand correctly that the United States simply took and killed the second most powerful man in Iran without Congress authorization, deliberately provoking a potential large-scale war in the region?" - posted on twitter Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy Member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee
GOP member and former army veteran Lee Zeldin called the killing more than justified: “The days when successive American leaders sat at the negotiating table and American soldiers died on the battlefield, this impunity is over,” he wrote on twitter.
Many hastened to draw parallels between the death of Suleymani and the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Former vice president Joseph Biden said no one in the US will mourn General Suleymani, who supported terror and wreaked havoc. With this biden call the step of the American authorities is "extremely escalatory."
“President Trump just tossed dynamite in a powder keg. Now he will have to tell the Americans what he intends to do in the future to protect our troops and embassy staff, our people and our interests - both at home and abroad, as well as our partners in the region and beyond, ”said Biden ...
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham Trump praised"Iran has to pay dearly to attack America and our allies, which includes the destruction of their refineries," Graham tweeted.
“The importance of this step is difficult to overestimate,” agreed retired US General David Petraeus, who commanded operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and a former CIA director, but warned that there will soon be a reaction in Iraq, and, in all likelihood, in Syria and the region in the whole ”.
According to POLITICO, Afshon Ostovar, author of the book Vanguard of Imam about Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is of the same opinion. According to the expert, Iranian leaders will soon announce a successor to Suleimani.
“He was the outer banner of the Islamic Republic, the face of their strategy, but the strategy itself does not end there,” Ostovar said.
Meanwhile, some members of the American administration were taken aback by the news; they note that the assassination of Suleymani was not seriously considered until the last moment.
Even considering how tense the relationship between the US and Iran was, the assassination of Suleymani was a shock.
The site cites the words of an unnamed former US diplomat who was involved in the Middle East, who noted that the importance of this step is also that Suleymani was a state figure, not an informal leader.
“We must be prepared to be in a state of war,” the diplomat said.
According to declassified military materials on the war in Iraq, similar actions against Soleimani were considered in 2006. However, then the American generals "ultimately refrained from taking action against Soleimani, allowing the Iranian general to freely enter and leave Iraq," the publication quotes from these military materials.
Russia: an adventurous step
The Russian Foreign Ministry also called the assassination of an Iranian general in Baghdad "an adventurous US move that will lead to an escalation of tension in the region."
“Suleimani has devotedly served the cause of protecting Iran's national interests. We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people, ”the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
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