January 4, 2020

The US drone strike at Baghdad airport that killed Iran’s top commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and a senior leader of Iraq’s Shia militia, has set the Mideast on fire. The Trump administration, which authorized the assassination, called it a ’pre-emptive’ strike. Iran branded it ‘outright murder.’

Soleimani was Iran’s second most powerful figure and a national icon. He headed up the Quds Force, the elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a key player in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Gulf region. Soleimani was also the most capable, intelligent and effective military leader in a region of third rate generals.

The 62-year-old general distinguished himself in the long Iraq-Iran War, the dirty war in Lebanon, and operations in Iraq. He played a key role in defeating the ultra-radical Islamic State movement in Iraq, working in tandem with the US. Soleimani helped turn the tide of battle in Syria, saving the regime of Bashar Assad.

As a result of his battlefield and political successes, Soleimani earned the enmity of the US, Israel and the US media. So many assassination attempts were launched against him that Iran’s spiritual leader dubbed him a ‘living martyr.’

His luck ran out this week, no doubt as a result of an intelligence leak in Iraq. His two car convoy was incinerated by US missile strikes. Along with Soleimani, a leader of Iraq’s Shia militia was also killed by the US attack as well as some ten other senior Iraqi and Iranian officials.

President Trump proudly took credit for authorizing the assassination, a brazen violation of international law. He seemed unfazed that most of the rest of the world sees the US as ‘Murder Inc.’ For Trump, the killing will boost his standing with Republican/Evangelical voters in this year’s elections and promote his faux tough guy image – this from a man who repeatedly dodged Vietnam era military service and called for an end to America’s Mideast wars.

Iran’s cautious leadership may hesitate to retaliate directly for this murder. Tehran may choose an indirect method of revenge to avoid giving Washington the reason to attack Iran that it has been seeking for the past two years. US forces are spread across the Mideast and thus easy targets.

Israel has long been itching to attack Iran’s nuclear and military installations. An excellent new book, ‘Rise and Kill First,’ by Israeli author Ronen Bergman, exhaustively details the long record of Israel assassinating Palestinian leaders and militants. As Stalin famously quipped, ‘no man, no problem.’

A large portion of the Palestinian leadership – notably the most intelligent and moderate – was killed by Israeli hit squads, leaving ‘no one to negotiate with,’ in Israel’s words.

Israel’s decisive influence over the Trump administration means that the US has fully embraced the same kill policies. Trump may now have the war with Iran he so obviously craves and that Israel and Saudi Arabia want. Any Iranian retaliation will be branded ‘terrorism’ by the administration and its media sycophants.

General Qassem was in line to become president of Iran. He was widely respected for his wisdom, religious faith, and clever diplomacy. He has now been removed. Trump’s reckless policy may help his re-election, but it also makes it much more likely that the US will sink ever deeper into the morass of the Mideast.

America has always demonized troublesome Mideast leaders that defied its imperil writ. The region’s complex problems were simplified into cartoon characters that were labeled ‘bad guys’ or ‘terrorists.’ Think of Iran’s Mossadegh, Nasser, Assad, Arafat, Khomeini, Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein, Turkey’s Erdogan and most lately Soleimani. More are sure to emerge.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2020

This post is in: Iran


  1. It’s rather obvious that Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani at the behest of the Israeli government. Note how Netanyahu has gone quiet about this matter. And I have a feeling that Vladimir Putin has intervened to restrain both sides from escalating this situation into an armed conflict. Iran’s responses, thus far, to the killing of Soleimani has been to fire missiles at a US airbase in Iraq, but thanks to an advance warning passed through the Iraqi military, there were no casualties. Iran appeared to back away from further strikes against the US. Then Trump said that Iran was “standing down” and suggested that the US wants peace with that country. I really doubt that the US will launch a strike against Iran, no matter what the latter does, because Putin has likely warned Trump not to attack it. But if Trump does order an attack on Iran, in defiance of Putin’s warning, then we might find out what the Russian government is hanging over his neck.

  2. Another reason the UN should be built on international property:
    from the BBC:
    Iran minister says U.S. won’t grant him visa for UN visit

  3. Reminds me of the old saw, ““The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke”
    I’m more convinced than ever that Donald is not the issue, but, is a symptom of a much greater problem.

  4. Trump’s strategy of making outrageous statements works well in the realm of American political theatre but it may well backfire in his dealings with Iraq. I’m fairly sure Trump wants to be out of Iraq but by demanding a buyout (doomed to fail and he knows it) he may have painted himself into a corner.

    By tying the withdrawal of US forces to the payment of US expenses incurred when they “mistakenly” invaded Iraq, (which would mean the US would never leave) Trump has opened himself and the US to the possibility of Iraq presenting the US with a bill for all of the trillions of dollars in war damage it has suffered.

    If presented to the US through the UN, it could isolate the US even further from world opinion.

  5. SkyJammer says:

    I hope the Iranians realize that they are being prepared for a starring role in this Wag The Dog sequel and carefully prepare a measured response. DJT isn’t the first war criminal to occupy the Oval Office but let’s pray his occupancy is coming to an end. Aside from the impeachment proceedings, this is a perilous time for democracy. The 2020 election will prove if the Democratic process in the U.S.A. can cleanse itself. Getting rid of Trump will not be enough. His enablers and henchmen must be ousted as well. This will entail defeating the G.O.P’s gerrymandering efforts, voter suppression and outright fraud. It is necessary to awaken the largest voting bloc which happens to be the citizens who traditionally don’t vote (100 million, the majority being people of color). Which Democrat candidate can energize this bloc? Time to end the gangster’s reign. If not the world will be f****d.

  6. Trump’s disregard for the law grows by leaps and bounds… this latest action is a stepping stone for more serious abuse. See what happens if he is re-elected for another term. The world is not safe.
    The UN should be re-constructed with a more empowering charter. It is not doing its job. If it were a serious organisation they could step in and sanction the Americans, internationally. It is a paper tiger.
    The US bully is on it’s way to starting WWIII. Trump is more lawless and ambitious than was Adolph Hitler… and likely more dangerous.

  7. peter mcloughlin says:

    “Trump may now have the war with Iran he so obviously craves…”
    The lesson no great power has ever learned from history is that it eventually gets the very war it seeks to avoid: utter destruction. Events in the Mideast, and elsewhere, do not augur well for the future.

  8. I’m not totally sure this is a bad move by the USA as they were jammed into a corner by the recent attacks. Doing nothing may not have been an option.

    I am sure that there won’t be any high level US politicians paying surprise visits to the troops in Iraq anymore.

    If Iraq votes to send the US troops home, then maybe Trump gets exactly what he wants. I think Eric is wrong about Trump wanting a war with Iran, I think he wants a complete exit. Some of his advisors want the war as do parts of his base.

    The largest part of his base however, want out to stop the hemorrhage of blood (theirs) and money (also theirs).

  9. Isn’t it amazing how the media tells about how Trump has lied over 14,000 times but when his government is trying to take America to war with Iran he is suddenly the most trustworthy man on Earth? You would think the media is owned by the war manufacturers. Oh wait. They are. This is shown by how all the media including the Canadians all obediently use the media code term “private contractor” when talking about the American killed in Iraq rather than what he really is, a mercenary.
    What is infuriating is how all the world obediently falls on their faces before America and chant the mantra “America is always right.”

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