Daniel Halliday
Jan 6 · Last update 5 mo. ago.

What is the significance of the killing of Qasem Soleimani?

Qasem Soleimani was a senior military commander and a major general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, specifically the leader of the countries Quds Force, Iran’s intelligence and extraterritorial military forces. On the 3rd January 2020 Soleimani was assassinated by an intentional US drone strike in Baghdad along with the head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Soleimani’s influence ran very deep in the Iranian military but his death sparked wide scale mourning in Iran, as he was such a strongly revered national figure. So what are the likely consequences of his death, and what is the wider significance of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani? sbs.com.au/news/who-is-qasem-soleimani-and-why-is-his-death-so-significant
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Trump’s on going effort to escalate tensions to war with Iran
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The death of a criminal and terrorist
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Legality - US willingness to commit crimes and lie about them
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Iran's response – lessons to be learned
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A violation of Iraqi sovereignty
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Trumps efforts to get re-elected
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Trump’s on going effort to escalate tensions to war with Iran

The targeted drone strikes that killed Qasem Soleimani were a result of the direct orders of US President Donald Trump, and seem to be part of a wider plan to provoke Iran into a state of warfare. This plan seems to have started as soon as he came into office when Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on the country. But continued reckless actions have now raised tensions to the point where countries have accused the US of trying to provoke war with Iran, and that is prior to the assassination of on of the most prominent military and political figures in Iran. Trump even threatened to target cultural sites in Iran moving forward in his handling of this situation that he himself has caused, bragging of his intentions to commit war crimes against the people of Iran on twitter, a clear act of provocation and effort to escalate.

But the reasoning behind this decision seems to stem from when he was running for president, Donald Trump built his campaign on criticising Barack Obama’s presidency and tying the failings of the Obama presidency to Hillary Clinton to gain leverage. One of the key areas of criticism was Obama’s foreign policy, which Trump has made every effort to reverse, including the Iran nuclear deal, a historic moment for Iran-US relations. Add to this Trump’s choice of long-term Iran antagonists, such as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, as key members of his cabinet and it is clear to see why tensions are rising with Iran. But the timing of Soleimani’s death, towards the end of impeachment enquiries against Trump and at the start of an election year, have brought Trump further criticism for using the assassination of Soleimani to distract and boost his public approval ratings.

washingtonpost.com/politics/in-confrontation-with-iran-trump-wrestles-with-the-shadow-of-obama-the-metric-he-has-to-beat/2020/01/04/2bd11a80-2e49-11ea-9b60-817cc18cf173_story.html geo.tv/latest/265894-unravelling-of-the-iran-nuclear-deal-a-timeline thehill.com/policy/international/449024-russia-warns-us-is-trying-to-provoke-war-with-iran theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/06/suleimani-killing-donald-trump-defends-threat-to-hit-cultural-sites-in-iran youtube.com/watch?v=_y8sMVd37cc timesofisrael.com/warren-implies-trump-had-soleimani-killed-to-distract-from-impeachment hindustantimes.com/world-news/will-soleimani-al-baghdadi-help-trump-s-re-election-bid/story-0jKE5YtO9yTAUwled5LV3L.html

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 2
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-confrontation-with-iran-trump-wrestles-with-the-shadow-of-obama-the-metric-he-has-to-beat/2020/01/04/2bd11a80-2e49-11ea-9b60-817cc18cf173_story.html https://www.geo.tv/latest/265894-unravelling-of-the-iran-nuclear-deal-a-timeline https://thehill.com/policy/international/449024-russia-warns-us-is-trying-to-provoke-war-with-iran https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/06/suleimani-killing-donald-trump-defends-threat-to-hit-cultural-sites-in-iran https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y8sMVd37cc https://www.timesofisrael.com/warren-implies-trump-had-soleimani-killed-to-distract-from-impeachment/ https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/will-soleimani-al-baghdadi-help-trump-s-re-election-bid/story-0jKE5YtO9yTAUwled5LV3L.html

The death of a criminal and terrorist

As the leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousand of people, both in Iran and abroad. The United States recognises Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation and, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as a result of Soleimani's death "the world is a much safer place [and] Americans in the region are much safer today” [1]. Likewise Vice President Mike Pence spoke of an imminent threat Soleimani posed to US citizens stationed in Iraq, and it is thought that the US killed Suleimani preemptively based upon intelligence of a planned attack on the US embassy in Iraq.

Although Iranians inside the country seem to have mourned the death of Soleimani in in great numbers, in countries where Iranians live and express themselves freely the picture was much more mixed, with many celebrating his death and some even praising President Donald Trump. Surprisingly Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives responded in an attempt to block Trump’s ability to respond to Iranian aggression in the future, calling these measures disproportionate, despite Qasem Soleimani being designated a terrorist in 2005. Soleimani was the head of an organisation with proven links to anti-US terrorism internationally, carrying out assignations across the Middle East, arming US adversaries and other terror organisations and directly killing hundreds of US troops in Iraq. He was a war criminal and defying a UN sanction at the time of his death by traveling to Iraq, the US had to act on intelligence regardless of the divided political landscape in the US.

[1] taskandpurpose.com/pompeo-suleimani-killing-iraq stopfundamentalism.com/iran/iranians-celebrate-soleimani-death therealside.com/2020/01/iraqis-and-iranians-celebrate-the-death-of-soleimani [2] newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-real-backstory-of-why-trump-ordered-the-killing-of-suleimani-is-becoming-more-clear ncr-iran.org/en/news/iran-protests/27168-people-in-iran-and-across-the-globe-celebrate-qassem-soleimani-s-death

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 2
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DH edited this paragraph
Although Iranians inside the country seem to have mourned the death of Soleimani in in great numbers, in countries where Iranians live and express themselves freely the picture was much more mixed, with many celebrating his death and some even praising President Donald Trump. Surprisingly Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives responded in an attempt to block Trump’s ability to respond to Iranian aggression in the future, calling these measures disproportionate, despite Qasem Soleimani being designated a terrorist in 2005. Soleimani was the head of an organisation with proven links to anti-US terrorism internationally, carrying out assignations across the Middle East, arming US adversaries and other terror organisations and directly killing hundreds of US troops in Iraq. He was a war criminal and defying a UN sanction at the time of his death by traveling to Iraq, the US had to act on intelligence regardless of the divided political landscape in the US.

Legality - US willingness to commit crimes and lie about them

Qasem Suleimani’s death has been described as probably illegal by the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Agnes Callamard, as his killing was based on the immanent threat he posed to the US. The UN has strict guidelines for such acts of preemptive self-defence to be recognised as legal, and so far the US government have not done a good job of justifying their actions. Many commentators have mentioned the lack of congressional support, which may raise political problems in the US, but without adequate justification this strike was illegal internationally also. According to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the US didn't know where or when the ‘imminent attacks’ would occur, but this apparently warranted this preemptive strike, a claim which completely undermines any argument of self-defence.

Furthermore, the failed effort to kill an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps financier and commander, Abdul Reza Shahlai, in Yemen on the same day shows that Soleimani’s murder was actually part of an chance assassination campaign and not a pre-emptive attack to stop a strike on the US. In this way the death of Qasem Soleimani reveals both the US' actions for what they are, an assassination campaign, and the US government's willingness to lie about it. The misrepresentation of illegal action by the US further demonstrates that this was a murder, not unfortunate, not a mistake or reasonable in any sense, as it was conveyed by US officials to the international press.

bbc.com/news/world-51007961 justsecurity.org/67949/the-targeted-killing-of-general-soleimani-its-lawfulness-and-why-it-matters youtu.be/L9X36QbLulg?t=121

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 1
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51007961 https://www.justsecurity.org/67949/the-targeted-killing-of-general-soleimani-its-lawfulness-and-why-it-matters/ https://youtu.be/L9X36QbLulg?t=121

Iran's response – lessons to be learned

Despite a eulogist at Soleimani’s funeral mentioning a $80million bounty on Trump’s head, Iran’s main response was a guided missile bombing campaign on a US military base in Iraq, however this was more of a warning shot and offer to reduce tensions than a true retaliation. Iran is thought to have bombed US bases in Iraq as a message, they are using advanced guided missile systems so missing does not seem accidental. Instead the fact that they are using such technology in a retaliatory strike is thought to be a clear message that they could indeed hit American targets precisely in much they same way the US targeted Soleimani, but they are choosing restraint over further escalation.

However these strikes also led to the mistaken downing of the Ukrainian flight 752, Iran coincidentally repeating American history here in this clear message to both sides that ever-increasing tensions will only lead to greater civilian loss. This will hopefully defuse the situation somewhat in the same way that Iran flight 655 tragedy defused the Persian Gulf Tanker War of the 1980’s towards the end of the Iran-Iraq War. This almost bizarre near repetition of history seems to have strangely placed both countries on an even keel, ending in a awkward stalemate, but the true test will be how these two countries continue in a year already dominated by assassination, tragedy and now viral pandemic.

republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/iran-man-announces-80-dollars-mn-bounty-on-trumps-head-after-soleimanis.html bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-08/no-u-s-casualties-in-iran-strikes-on-iraq-base-u-s-official usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/01/08/iran-missile-strike-targets-missed-warning-shots-deescalate/2843480001 newsweek.com/iranians-shot-down-ukraine-flight-mistake-sources-1481313 msn.com/en-gb/news/world/crash-may-be-grim-echo-of-us-downing-of-iran-flight-in-1988/ar-BBYPl6J

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 1
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DH edited this paragraph
However these strikes also led to the mistaken downing of the Ukrainian flight 752, Iran coincidentally repeating American history here in this clear message to both sides that ever-increasing tensions will only lead to greater civilian loss. This will hopefully defuse the situation somewhat in the same way that Iran flight 655 tragedy defused the Persian Gulf Tanker War of the 1980’s towards the end of the Iran-Iraq War. This almost bizarre near repetition of history seems to have strangely placed both countries on an even keel, ending in a awkward stalemate, but the true test will be how these two countries continue in a year already dominated by assassination, tragedy and now viral pandemic.

A violation of Iraqi sovereignty

More telling than the US or Iranian reaction to the situation following the killing of Qasem Soleimani was Iraq’s reaction, as Soleimani's killing is widely seen as a complete violation of Iraqi sovereignty. The assassination of Soleimani was carried out without the Iraqi government’s knowledge or consent, putting them in a difficult position with their neighbour, and leading many Iraqis to accuse the US of trying to start a war with Iran in Iraq. This was followed by a display of mourning in Baghdad and rocket attacks on the US embassy in the city and at the US Air Base in Balad, with no casualties. The feelings of violation were palpable in Iraq as American oil workers in the country were evacuated to Iraqi Kurdistan days later.

By this time the Iraqi government responded to the attack, with the approving of a draft resolution by Iraqi lawmakers, gaining 170 of the required 150 signatures needed by Iraqi parliament, officially requesting US troops to withdraw from Iraq immediately. The US seem to have had a mixed response to the Iraqi government's request following Soleimani murder. Although the US military responded with an official letter supporting Iraq’s “sovereign decision” [1], Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper have all since denied there are any plans on the part of the US to withdraw from Iraq. While this clear violation of sovereignty may not cause any movement of troops in Iraq it has severely harmed Iraqi-US relations.

mediamonitors.net/assassination-of-general-soleimani-a-serious-violation-of-iraqi-sovereignty alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2020/1/5/iraq-summons-us-envoy-over-violation-of-sovereignty [1] twitter.com/LizSly/status/1214278172872544256 forbes.com/sites/lisettevoytko/2020/01/10/iraq-asks-us-to-begin-process-of-withdrawing-troops edition.cnn.com/2020/01/06/business/chevron-workers-iraq/index.html nytimes.com/2020/01/04/us/politics/trump-suleimani.html english.almanar.com.lb/905643

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 1
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DH edited this paragraph
By this time the Iraqi government responded to the attack, with the approving of a draft resolution by Iraqi lawmakers, gaining 170 of the required 150 signatures needed by Iraqi parliament, officially requesting US troops to withdraw from Iraq immediately. The US seem to have had a mixed response to the Iraqi government's request following Soleimani murder. Although the US military responded with an official letter supporting Iraq’s “sovereign decision” [1], Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper have all since denied there are any plans on the part of the US to withdraw from Iraq. While this clear violation of sovereignty may not cause any movement of troops in Iraq it has severely harmed Iraqi-US relations.

Trumps efforts to get re-elected

Many Trump critics have accused him of heightening tensions with Iran as a re-election strategy, finding it suspicious that he would carry out such a bold assassination so close to an election. This is largely based on Trump's own assertions about Obama, in 2011 Trump accused Obama of having such a strategy numerous times, predicting that he would invade Iran in order to get re-elected both on Twitter and YouTube. But Trump's impeachment is equally as important; this shares remarkable similarities to Bill Clinton’s bombing of Iraq in 1998 in the height of his impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. This similarity has led many to speculate, like they did with Clinton, that this is an effort by Trump to divert attention away from impeachment and boost his approval ratings ahead of the 2020 presidential race.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in the days prior to Suleimani’s assassination Trump was bragging to associates and members of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that "something big was going to happen"; not treating such an occasion with the seriousness one would expect from such a high-profile killing. With such a lax attitude to foreign affairs, a propensity to put personal gain above all else, his involvement in impeachment enquiries and his accusations that Obama would do the same, the killing of Qasem Soleimani seems a distinctly cynical attempt to boost Trump's profile. In addition at this stage in the presidential election cycle the timing of these actions seem all seem too convenient, solidifying the view that Suleimani's assassination was more to do with reelection in Trump's mind.

youtu.be/uj01U8l35OI?t=123 defenseworld.net/news/26110/Did_Trump_Order_Soleimani_Killing_to_Boost_Re_election_Prospects_#.XhxLJFMzbMI newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-real-backstory-of-why-trump-ordered-the-killing-of-suleimani-is-becoming-more-clear politico.com/story/2016/12/clinton-orders-airstrike-on-iraq-dec-16-1998-232571

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 1
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DH edited this paragraph
https://youtu.be/uj01U8l35OI?t=123 https://www.defenseworld.net/news/26110/Did_Trump_Order_Soleimani_Killing_to_Boost_Re_election_Prospects_#.XhxLJFMzbMI https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-real-backstory-of-why-trump-ordered-the-killing-of-suleimani-is-becoming-more-clear https://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/clinton-orders-airstrike-on-iraq-dec-16-1998-232571
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