Fears of a new conflict erupting between the United States and Iran after the assassination of Soleimani
- 2020-01-03 22:48:37
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Leader of the "Quds Force" of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in an aerial bombardment targeting his convoy at Baghdad International Airport, in a process that observers say may warn of the escalation of the threat of a new conflict in the Middle East.
The Pentagon later confirmed that US President Donald Trapp had ordered the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that "on the orders of the President, the US military took decisive defensive measures to protect American crews abroad by killing Qasim Soleimani."
Iranian state television confirmed that Soleimani was killed in a raid by American helicopters on Baghdad International Airport and a road close to it.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump posted a picture of the "American Flag" without commenting on his Twitter account.
The attack on Baghdad airport is the latest in a series of escalating events that have already strained hostile relations between Iran and the United States, which began last week with the killing of a US contractor in a missile attack targeting an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk.
The contractor's death led to a rare and direct American attack on the sites of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, which are under the Popular Mobilization, killing 25 members of the crowd. In protest of the American strike, supporters of the Popular Mobilization stormed the door of the American embassy in Baghdad, which prompted US President Donald Trump last Wednesday to deploy military reinforcements in the Middle East.
The United States had long feared that direct military action against Iran would lead to a new, devastating war. The Obama administration, which sought to avoid escalation, signed an agreement with Iran to stop the development of nuclear weapons, but the Trump administration took a hostile stance towards Tehran and withdrew from the agreement, and classified the Quds Force as a "terrorist group."
The strike comes in the wake of statements by US Defense Secretary Mark Esber that "there are indications that Iran or factions enjoying its support may plan to commit further provocations, and that the United States may take proactive moves."
Fears of war
Given Soleimani's role as a high-ranking government figure, his assassination is a tragic escalation and may have disastrous consequences.
Observers believe that the killing of the commander of the Quds Force is a turning point in the Middle East and raises concerns about the escalation of the possibilities of a response from Tehran to the point of war.
In the first US comment, US Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said, "Qassem Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. Soleimani's killing could lead to the outbreak of a potentially huge regional war."
The United States appeared to be "entering another war in the Middle East," said Farid Zakaria, a senior commentator on CNN.
The same bombing of Baghdad Airport, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization and leader of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, was killed.
The Pentagon said, "Soleimani was working on plans to attack American diplomats and soldiers in Iraq and throughout the region," and held him responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition military personnel and the wounding of thousands more.
William Fallon, a retired American admiral, told the Military Times that the killing of Soleimani was a "very strong blow" to Iran.
Although Fallon said that tensions between Washington and Tehran are likely to escalate, he does not expect a full-scale war.
"We might see Iran trying to strike a big blow," he said, expecting it to take the form of "terrorist attacks or a bigger protest show against the embassy and perhaps drone attacks. But they have to figure out their steps carefully."
"As for an all-out war, neither side wants that."
Soleimani, 62, first appeared as a leader during Iran's long war with Iraq in the 1980s. Soleimani is not only considered a great military figure inside and beyond Iran, but is also seen as a prominent political figure, and he is close and enjoys the confidence of the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei.
In the wake of the announcement of Soleimani's death, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif threatened that the United States would bear the consequences of the "rogue" attack. "The targeting of General Suleiman was a terrorist act by the United States and it is a dangerous and foolish escalation. The United States will bear the consequences of this rogue raid," Zarif said in a tweet on Twitter.
Mohsen Rezaei, head of the Iran Diagnostic Service, also threatened the United States with "revenge for the killing of the commander of the Quds Force. Rezaei said in a tweet on the same social networking site," We will take revenge on America from the evil of revenge. "
Iranian media reports said that the National Security Council in Iran is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the implications of Soleimani. American media reports said that the American military forces were placed on high alert after this operation.
The strike sparked an immediate rise in oil prices. While it is certainly expected to generate enthusiasm in the United States and other regional countries in the region, Trump may use it no less than his predecessor Barack Obama's exploitation of the assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Lan in the context of his re-election campaign for the US presidency this year.
But the United States is unlikely to easily absorb its repercussions, according to observers, as this could stoke hot tensions between US and Iranian agents in Iraq and the Middle East.
In the wake of the American embassy protests, Hezbollah fighters and others pledged to continue cordoning off US military sites in the country.
In addition to the 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq, there are between 60 and 80,000 in the Middle East. Trump ordered the dispatch of 750 soldiers on Wednesday as part of the deployment of 4,000 additional soldiers in the region.
"If Iran decides to press the button, I'm not sure how the American forces will defend itself," said Kylie Orton, an expert at Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank.
In addition to the possibility of endangering the lives of American forces, it is believed that the escalating American confrontation with the Iranian-backed militias may shift the focus of Iraqi public anger on the United States, where American actions constitute clear violations of Iraqi sovereignty.
"The danger, of course, is that we will face a dispute over the issue of our presence in the region," Chris Murphy said by phone to MSNBC.