The latest developments after the death of Soleimani

With General Soleimani, the United States killed one of the most important figures in the Iranian regime. It is feared that the conflict between the two countries could now escalate.

American soldiers from the Iraq Task Force in Baghdad in late December 2019.

American soldiers from the Iraq Task Force in Baghdad in late December 2019.

U.S. Army / Reuters

The latest developments

  • US President Donald Trump has rejected speculation about inconsistencies within his government regarding the targeted killing of Iran’s top general Kassem Soleimani. There was agreement among his team, Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday, justifying the attack again. Statements by Trump and his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had previously been viewed as an open contradiction. Trump said last week that attacks could have been “likely” on four U.S. embassies. He didn’t see any evidence of that, Esper said on Sunday.
  • On Sunday, January 12, several missiles hit Al-Balad Air Force Base in Iraq, used by American troops. News agencies, all related to the Iraqi military, reported four to eight strikes. There were three to four injured Iraqi soldiers. Most of the American soldiers had apparently left the base earlier. Missile attacks on military bases in Iraq are not uncommon, and insurgents are often behind them. It was initially unclear who was responsible for the latest attack on the base that was hit about a week ago.
  • Great Britain, France and Germany called on Sunday (January 12th) Iran to fully adhere to the nuclear deal. In a joint statement, the heads of state called on Iran to refrain from further aggression. The appeal came one day after the Iranian nuclear organization canceled a planned press conference at short notice. Originally, the agency apparently wanted to tell how Iran intends to implement the 2015 nuclear agreement in the future.
  • Iran took responsibility for the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran on Saturday (January 11). It thought the Boeing was an American cruise missile and shot it down with a missile. All 176 inmates were killed in the crash. Iran initially spoke of a technical defect in the machine. After the declaration, there were protests from both reformers and conservatives in their own country. The latest developments regarding the crash
  • A planned attack by the United States on another Iranian commander is said to have failed. The Washington Post and CNN report citing several unnamed sources in the US government. According to the Washington Post, the top secret operation was in Yemen Abdul Resa Shahlaei, a commander of the Iranian Kuds Brigades. The attack is said to have been ordered around the same time as the drone attack on Soleimani, around January 3.

A Hizbullah supporter in Beirut holds up the image of Kassem Soleimani. Below is an alleged quote from Soleimani:

A Hizbullah supporter in Beirut holds up the image of Kassem Soleimani. Below is an alleged quote from Soleimani: “You will start the war, but we will end it.”

Wael Hamzeh / EPA

The main answers

On January 3, the Iranian general and leader of the Kuds units, Kassem Soleimani, was killed in an American drone attack on the grounds of Baghdad International Airport. The Kuds units are the arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard responsible for foreign operations. They are the leaders in Iran’s aggressive regional policy in the Middle East.

The killing of Soleimani, at the behest of President Donald Trump, is a new, dramatic climax in the conflict between the United States and Iran. It is feared that the conflict that has escalated in recent months could escalate for good.

The 62-year-old Soleimani was the main puller of Iran’s military operations in Syria, Iraq and other countries in the region. The general was considered a confidant of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – many saw him as the second most powerful man in Iran.

Soleimani has commanded the Kuds units since 1998. Under his leadership, Iran has greatly expanded its support for armed groups in the Middle East, including Iraq. In the years following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, pro-Iranian militias are said to have killed at least 600 American military personnel.

The US put Soleimani on a list of known terrorists in 2011. The Americans had considered killing the general before. Both Donald Trump’s predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, decided against the killing because they feared that the killing could lead to a war between the United States and Iran.

One of the most powerful men in Iran: Kassem Soleimani at a religious ceremony in Tehran in 2015.

One of the most powerful men in Iran: Kassem Soleimani at a religious ceremony in Tehran in 2015.

Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office / EPA

Since the termination of the nuclear deal, which was negotiated under his predecessor Obama, American President Trump has pursued a “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran. Tensions between the two countries have increased steadily in recent months. Most recently, the scene was Iraq. Proiran militias carried out rocket attacks against military bases in which American troops are stationed. An American security company employee was killed in an attack on December 27 in Kirkuk province. Several American soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were injured.

The United States saw Soleimani as the main culprit behind the attacks on its troops and facilities in Iraq. The suspicion is well founded. It is no coincidence that Soleimani was killed in Iraq, where he stayed regularly. The general had been picked up at the airport by several representatives of pro-Iranian militias. The drone attack occurred when Soleimani’s convoy tried to leave the site.

President Soleimani said after Trump’s death that he had been working on other “dark” plans to attack American targets and was therefore killed. The American government has so far not announced any details of the allegedly planned attacks.

The burning wreck of the car in which Soleimani was killed.

The burning wreck of the car in which Soleimani was killed.

Iraqi Security Media Cell / Reuters

Several militia officers were killed along with Soleimani. Among them was the Iraqi Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, a close confidant of the general. Ibrahimi, better known by his alias Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was the head of the Kataib Hizbullah, the militia that had launched an attack on the American embassy in Baghdad over the New Year. Thousands of Shiite militia officers had besieged the embassy for more than 24 hours, including burning down a reception building. The attack was in response to American bombardment of militia bases.

Representatives of the regime in Tehran reacted violently as expected. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described the killing of Kassem Soleimani on Twitter as «Extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation», The US is responsible for all the consequences of its “uncontrolled adventure”.

Revolutionary leader Ali Khamenei announced a three-day national mourning period in a message broadcast on state television. Khamenei said that the “criminals” who killed Soleimani were waiting for vengeance. Soleimani’s death would double the motivation of the “resistance movement” against the United States and Israel.

A demonstration in Tehran against the US's killing of Soleimani.

A demonstration in Tehran against the US’s killing of Soleimani.

Rouzbeh Fouladi / Imago

In the United States, consent to the killing of Soleimani was mixed with concerns about the possible consequences. Senator Lindsey Graham, one of President Trump’s most loyal followers, wrote on Twitter that Soleimani’s killing was a severe blow to the Iranian regime, which has American blood on its hands: “The price of killing and injuring Americans is just increased dramatically. »

The democrat Eliot Engel, who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, said in a statement, Soleimani was the “mastermind behind immense violence, immense suffering and immense instability”. His killing, however, represents a massive escalation of the conflict with Iran with unforeseeable consequences.

The most promising Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, published a statement, in which he described Soleimani’s killing as an “enormously escalating step” that did not reduce the likelihood of attacks by Iran, but increased it. President Trump, Biden said, had thrown a dynamite stick into a powder keg.

Criticism also came from the Iraqi side. Prime Minister Adel Abdelmahdi described the drone attack as aggression against Iraq and a breach of the country’s sovereignty. The attack would lead to war in Iraq, in the region and in the world.

The commentators agree that the killing of Soleimani has huge potential for escalation. Philip Gordon, who served as Barack Obama’s government coordinator for Middle East politics, described the attack on the general as “Practically a declaration of war” to the address of Iran,

On the night of January 8, Iran launched rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases that house American soldiers. Neither Americans nor Iraqis appear to have been killed in the retaliation attacks. The American government reacted cautiously after the attacks. President Trump announced new sanctions against Iran, but no military action. The Iranian side said that the retaliation for Soleimani had been carried out.

Still, it is highly likely that there will be further attacks on American targets or on American allies. Numerous forms are conceivable – attacks by pro-Iranian armed groups, such as Israel; Cyber ​​attacks; Terrorist attacks. The Iranians can count on a practically global network of actors who are directed or allied with them.

Cooperation: tsm., Ebl., Med., Urf., Nyf., Kkl., Ela. ran .; with agency material

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