Yesterday, January 3rd, 2020, in a drone strike authorized by President Trump, US military forces took out Maj. Gen. Quassem Soleimani, long-time head of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRG) “Quds force,” just outside Baghdad in Iraq. The Quds force is a division which has been described as “primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations” (Wikipedia).
This is another way of saying “a terrorist force,” and Soleimani was a terrorist mastermind. A commentary essay in USAToday – far from a right-wing source – notes that “Iran, using Soleimani’s Quds Force as its spearhead, was responsible for more than 600 American deaths in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, 17% of all U.S. dead in that conflict.” I have seen accounts that put the number closer to 1000 American dead.
The essay – which notes that “Trump had been a model of restraint in the face of increasingly aggressive moves against American allies and interests by Iran and its proxies” – points out that
“The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds force which Soleimani commanded was a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, which gave its members the same status as al-Qaida, the Islamic State or any other such group. According to the Pentagon, Soleimani was actively planning attacks against American forces, something he had done many times in the past,”
and further notes that “Iran has been escalating conflict in the Middle East for years. Iran supports insurgent and militia groups in Yemen, Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, among others,” largely through the Quds force, and its commander, Soleimani.
That drone strike couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fellah.
Anyone who thinks it was a coincidence that Soleimani was in the Baghdad area at the same time as the US Embassy there was under attack by a pro-Iranian, militant Islamic militia, Kataib Hezbollah, is probably incapable of adding two and two, and getting four.
The Kataib Hezbollah militia – founded by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was also killed in the attack – is closely connected to Iran, Iraq’s next-door neighbor to the east; and it is one of the country’s most loyal proxies in Iraq, according to analysts. It is difficult to conclude that Soleimani was there to advise, perhaps direction, and – if things had gone differently – gloat over the capture of the American Embassy.
Regarding al-Muhandis (a.k.a. Mohandes) – killed alongside Soleimani in the drone strike – Samuel J. Culper, intelligence analyst and founder of Forward Observer, notes:
“More than the news is telling you… Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes was the chief planner of the 1983 Beirut Bombing and the 1983 Kuwait bombings with attacks on six key Kuwaiti installations and US and French Embassy’s on 12 December 1983, two months after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings.
“He was sentenced to death in Kuwait for involvement in the 1983 bomb attacks on US and French embassies there but fled the country.
“Mohandes also oversaw Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups mostly consisting of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias that was formally integrated into Iraq’s armed forces.”
These are men who, as the old country saying put it, “needed killin’.” But of course, there are the usual explosions of hyperbole – primarily from the Left, naturally, but also from a certain sub-sector of right – about how this is a “dangerous escalation,” and may lead to another Iraq-war-like quagmire, or even “World War Three.” Well, anything is possible. But as this essay in National Review puts it,
“We have no clue how Iran will react to the elimination of its terror chief Qasem Soleimani. Religious fanatics tend to be unpredictable. One thing we can be certain of, however, is that every time the United States acts in its self-interest in the Middle East, a bunch of pundits and policy experts will start spouting lazy tropes about the Iraq War.”
Yep. The thing is – as this essay goes not to note – the issue with the Iraq War was not the Iraq War. We won that, handily and speedily. The problem was the interminable occupation and attempt at nation-building which followed. And as to that, the essay continues,
“As far as I can tell, there’s no evidence that Trump, or anyone else, has any appetite to invade Iran or force regime change. Many brave Iranians are already trying to do that on their own.”
They are, and I wish them well! As to Iranian reaction to the strike,
“Of course an Iran reprisal is likely to come sooner or later, and Americans will also likely be in danger. We shouldn’t dismiss these serious concerns. They are nothing new. Iran has been conducting a terror campaign against the United States and its allies for 40 years. It was the mullahs, not Trump, who ‘escalated’ tensions when Iranian-led militias stormed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
“Until recently, the Iranians faced few repercussions for hundreds of Soleimani-coordinated murders and the maiming of thousands of American troops. And let’s not forget either that there is not a single conflict in the region that Soleimani wasn’t fueling or coordinating in some way. If this is not an enemy worth knocking off, who is?”