I, for one, am outraged at the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.  I cannot believe this was a rationally calculated decision, but one reflecting President Trump’s instability, narcissism and envy. Further, it came after the U.S. President had said he had no desire to go to war, he was against wars. In fact, he had pulled troops out of the region.

This act of war carried out against Iran demonstrates the unpredictability of the U.S. President and the need to have him removed immediately. There is an impeachment notice pending, but action appears to have stalled due to the fear that an impeachment trial to convict Donald Trump will fail. This raises the question of why the man, pending such a hearing, is still allowed to make crucial decisions that impact directly upon the nation’s safety and well-being. It is a constitutional question that America  needs to address.

Qasem Soleimani was one of the most influential and popular figures in the Islamic Republic and a thorn in the side of the United States, but he made no direct threat against the American homeland, in fact he fought against one of Americas main enemies, Islamic State (ISIS).  Had the U.S. stayed out of Middle Eastern politics in the first place, we may never have heard of Qasem Soleimani.

In effect, we must rely on the western media, from which we learn that Qasem Soleimani led Iran’s campaign to arm and train Shiite militias in Iraq, the war that America fought on the basis of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction that were eventually found not to have existed.  America’s miscalculations in respect of this war were incomparable.

While Qasem Soleimani could be said to be responsible for the deaths of an estimated 600 American troops from 2003 to 2011, tens of thousands of people died fighting in the Iraq War, which lasted for 15 years.  Nearly 5,000 of them were U.S. service members. Tens of thousands were insurgents battling the transitional Iraqi government put in place after Saddam Hussein was ousted.[1]

The true number of deaths is not known. During the Islamic State’s occupation (they held a third of the country)   the death toll escalated into the hundreds of thousands. Many civilians were killed as a result of violence and many died due to the collapse of infrastructure.  The emergence of the Islamic State increased the ensuing instability and prolonged what was a three-phase war brought about by the U.S.

Qasem Soleimani was the chief purveyor of Iranian political influence in Iraq, most notably through his efforts to fight the Islamic State (ISIS).[2] At the closure of this epoch America did not only turn on its enemies, but also its friends.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump argues that Soleimani was a terrorist and that assassinating him was a defensive action that stopped an imminent attack. Accordingly, the Washington Post, details how Qasem Soleimani is said to have driven “Iran’s policies to arm and support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including by deploying an estimated 50,000 Shiite militia fighters to Syria”. He was believed to be “the point man for Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah in Lebanon, helping to supply the group with missiles and rockets to threaten Israel”. In addition, he was accused of creating “Iran’s strategy to arm the Houthis in Yemen”. Undoubtedly, Soleimani was a cult hero in Iran and across the region.

There is no simple answer to these accusations, it comes down to issues of neo-colonization by the west and if this is going to be acceptable or not.  Seemingly, it is not!  And why should it be?

Whether the accusations against Soleimani are true or not, the action against the Iranian general by the U.S. was just another example of the reckless policy the U.S.  administration has pursued since it came into office.

In May 2018, Trump left the Iran nuclear agreement and adopted a “maximum pressure” policy of economic sanctions on Iran. For a year, Iran responded with restraint in an effort to isolate the United States diplomatically and win economic concessions from other parties to the nuclear agreement.

There was no restrained approach by the U.S.  The President is known for throwing his weight around and his tactics of bullying.  By May 2019, it was alleged that Tehran had chosen instead to breach the nuclear agreement. The President had thought the agreement irrelevant anyway.

This escalated tensions across the region.

Then came Iranian mine attacks against international shipping in May and June, if they were caused by Iran, all we have is the American President’s say so…  Then Iran shot down a U.S., drone.   Was the drone in Iran’s territory?  It was open to question. In September, Iranian missiles struck the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, the most important piece of oil infrastructure in the world. Again, we only have the word of the President and his cohorts as to who was responsible for this breach. Then we are told, Shiite militia groups began launching rockets at U.S. bases in Iraq.

The fact is, who can we believe?  The President is not known for his honesty.

Where is the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty? Personally, I am, not one who is willing to take Donald Trump at his word.

None of the actions carried out by Qasem Soleimani or other parties give the U.S., the right to assassinate him, it brings the International Law into disrepute and it only serves to escalate the already existing tensions in the region.

Can America pull back from this without going to war?  Maybe, but frankly, I feel this whole scenario is not going to end well.

Where to now?   This from the Washington Post’s correspondent.

“The most important question now is how will Iran respond. The Islamic Republic’s behavior over the past few months and over its long history suggests that it may not rush to retaliate. Rather, it will carefully and patiently choose an approach that it deems effective, and it will likely try to avoid an all-out war with the United States. Nonetheless, the events of the past few days demonstrate that the risk of miscalculation is incredibly high. Soleimani clearly didn’t believe that the United States was going to dramatically escalate or he wouldn’t have left himself so vulnerable, only a stone’s throw away from U.S. military forces in Iraq. For his part, Trump has been adamant about his lack of interest in starting a new war in the Middle East—and yet, here we are at the precipice”. 

The correspondent goes on to say,

United States must, at a minimum, expect to find itself in conflict with Shiite militias in Iraq that will target U.S. forces, diplomats, and civilians. Iraq is the theater where the U.S. strike took place and therefore the most rational place for Iran to immediately respond. Moreover, the militia groups have already been escalating their activities over the past six months. They are among Iran’s most responsive proxies and will be highly motivated, given that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, one of their top commanders, was killed in the strike along with Soleimani.” 

The assassination was such an extreme violation of Iraqi sovereignty, Many Iraqis have no love for either the United States or Iran and they fear being put in the middle of a confrontation.  Nonetheless, the United States should not expect to get away with this.  No one wants a declaration of war, but it is about time the U.S. received the kind of sanctions it is happy to dish out to other nations.  America cannot be permitted to rule the world.

If  the U.S. find itself in conflict with Shiite militias in Iraq all we can expect is another rise to the death tolls.  The President has shown himself to be a revengeful individual with little restraint, so we might find a full-on confrontation with Iran unless the more rational country leaders can pull the President back.  The only group who will benefit from this in the long run are ISIS who appear to still retain a strong underground presence.

I feel for the victims who have no voice in these matters, but who bear the consequences.

[1] Philip Bump Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/03/20/15-years-after-it-began-the-death-toll-from-the-iraq-war-is-still-murky/ March 21st 2018. Retrieved 5th January, 2020.

[2] Ibid.

Dr Chris James