The double murder of senior Iranian and Iraqi military commanders on the orders of President Trump is an act of war against two nations. It’s hard to imagine a more reckless act of aggression in a region already primed for all-out conflict.
On early Friday, January 3, a U.S. drone strike reportedly killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as they were being driven away from the international airport in Baghdad. Several other military officials in the convoy were also killed.
Soleimani was internationally recognized as the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force who had been instrumental in helping Syria win its war against foreign-backed terror groups. Al-Muhandis was second in command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) which are an essential part of Iraq’s national army in its campaign to defeat similar terror groups that have plagued Syria.
The Pentagon blamed Soleimani for orchestrating attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq over recent months, and more recently for the violent protests at the American embassy in Baghdad. Those protests earlier this week came after U.S. air strikes killed at least 25 members of Iranian-backed PMF militia in Iraq and Syria on December 29.
President Trump on New Year’s Eve threatened that Iran would pay a “very big price” for violence against its embassy and forces in the region. Pentagon chief Mark Esper also warned of “pre-emptive strikes” against Iran.
What the Americans have done by assassinating two senior Iranian and Iraqi commanders is tantamount to lighting the fuse for war in the Middle East – a war which many have feared has been building steadily since Trump became president and embarked on his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, most clearly evidenced by his ditching of the international nuclear accord in 2018 and the subsequent ratcheting up of ever-harsher economic sanctions on Tehran.
Iraq, which is an ally of Iran, while also nominally an ally of the U.S., has been put in the most invidious position by the latest murders.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said of the U.S. air strike: “The assassination of an Iraqi military commander who holds an official position is considered aggression on Iraq … and the liquidation of leading Iraqi figures or those from a brotherly country on Iraqi soil is a massive breach of sovereignty.”
He added that the order given by Trump was “a dangerous escalation that will light the fuse of a destructive war in Iraq, the region, and the world.”
As a result of the air strikes, Iraqi lawmakers are now vigorously pushing for an end to U.S. military presence in their country where nearly 5,000 American troops remain, despite nearly a decade after a decade-long war was supposedly ended by former U.S. President Obama at the end of 2011.
Meanwhile Iranian leaders have sworn to take revenge for “an act of terrorism”. General Soleimani was a national icon, and revered by Iranian allies across the region for his defiance of American and Israeli aggression. The dozens of American bases and tens of thousands of troops stationed in the Middle East will no doubt be targeted with a vengeance in the coming days and weeks.
Trump’s assassination order may play well to his domestic voter base for his swagger and firepower, but the chaos and destruction that is sure to follow will haunt his re-election hopes at the end of this year.
The mayhem being unleashed by the Trump administration needs to be placed in a wider context. The U.S. has been waging illegal wars and all manner of subterfuges in the Middle East for decades. Its military presence in Iraq and Syria is illegal. Its aggression towards Iran is illegal. Yet Washington turns the reality of its lawlessness on its head with absurd self-proclamations of virtue.
The year ahead is promising to bring clearer focus worldwide on how depraved and destructive the United States has become. It alone stands as the nemesis of world peace. It is a sign of how lawless this state has become when it can be associated with so many potential simultaneous conflicts in every part of the world, not just the Middle East.
Washington is aggravating dangerous tensions with nuclear powers Russia and China. It is bombing countries from Central Asia to Africa. It openly boasts about overthrowing governments in Latin America. Even supposed European allies are threatened with ruinous economic sanctions if they don’t toe Washington’s dubious line.
With 2020 vision, U.S. rogue-state conduct is the deplorable common denominator threatening world peace.