67 votes

Iran's Qassem Soleimani killed in US airstrike at Baghdad airport

44 comments

  1. [4]
    patience_limited
    (edited )
    Link
    So, for some extra context on this act, The Intercept and The New York Times published the contents of a batch of Iranian cables in November. The relationship between Iraq and Iran has enormous...

    So, for some extra context on this act, The Intercept and The New York Times published the contents of a batch of Iranian cables in November.

    The relationship between Iraq and Iran has enormous historical complexity, largely along Sunni/Shiite lines, and the notional Iran/Iraq border has always been problematic because it split tribal territories.

    One of the major counterarguments to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was that it would blow up these historical instabilities. Iraq, as a patchwork territory of peoples with Sunni, Shiite, Baathist, and Kurdish identities, could not be adequately secured by U.S. troops; Saddam Hussein was barely able to hold it together. This was particularly true as the Bush Adminstration's invasion advocates were trying to sell a limited, quick war to the public, with few troops at risk. Attempts to "nation build" where no definite national identity existed in the absence of an authoritarian nationalist leader like Saddam Hussain, would prove futile and empower Iran's attempt to consolidate Shiites. This had already been one of the major factors in the eight-year Iran/Iraq War.

    Those predictions have largely proven true, further underpinned by an haphazard, incompetent, corrupt occupation.

    Iraq's current governing coalition is fragile, immensely corrupt, and weighted toward the Shiite factions that occupied the power vacuum after Saddam Hussain's largely Sunni Baathists were purged. It's no wonder that astute Iranian intelligence forces could gain influence.

    As to General Qassem Soleimani, as @Arshan indicated, he's the next most powerful Iranian political figure after Ayatollah Khamenei - it's as if someone had assassinated, say, Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, or Vice President Pence. Soleimani was a popular, charismatic figure noted for rallying generations of Iranian soldiers, since the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980's, with promises of glorious martyrdom. He helped engineer the Iranian regime's covert alliances with Russia and China, that resulted in the recent joint forces exercise in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. has prudently turned away from killing him previously, in consideration of the consequences.

    Soleimani's assassination is a turning point that will inflame a quarter-billion Shiites worldwide against the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia, regardless of his provocations. Russia and China are now reacting as well, given that this is a rebuke to their projections of influence.

    No one but a rash, intemperate idiot like Trump would have kicked the hornet's nest this way, and I don't think anyone, whether in involved nations or not, will be safe from the consequences.

    Edit: Not even getting into the Quds Force's financial, logistic, and arms supply support for Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria, the drone attack on Saudi Arabia, etc. There's no question that Iran is dangerously ambitious, and General Soleimani was instrumental in many of these actions, if not actively responsible for the underlying policy. However, if history has any lesson, it's that (morality aside) targeted strategic leadership assassinations are ineffective, highly polarizing, and usually escalate to open warfare.

    39 votes
    1. [2]
      envy
      Link Parent
      Trump likely sees no personal downside to kicking a hornest net, to justify starting a war with Iran in order to rally his base. He accused Obama of doing the same exact thing:...

      No one but a rash, intemperate idiot like Trump would have kicked the hornet's nest this way, and I don't think anyone, whether in involved nations or not, will be safe from the consequences.

      Trump likely sees no personal downside to kicking a hornest net, to justify starting a war with Iran in order to rally his base.

      He accused Obama of doing the same exact thing: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/141604554855825408

      12 votes
      1. goodbetterbestbested
        Link Parent
        It's a damn near certainty that this is precisely his odious calculation given Trump's proclivity for psychological projection.

        It's a damn near certainty that this is precisely his odious calculation given Trump's proclivity for psychological projection.

        7 votes
    2. CALICO
      Link Parent
      This. [Noise x1] For personal context on some of the potential repercussions, Kandahar Air Base has been on alert for the past two days. I've got to lug my fucking body armor around everywhere,...

      This. [Noise x1]


      For personal context on some of the potential repercussions, Kandahar Air Base has been on alert for the past two days. I've got to lug my fucking body armor around everywhere, and try to sleep through the Big Voice reminding everyone to have their fucking armor within 20 sec/20 meters all through the night. I imagine a similar experience throughout the region right now.

      Iran is likely to hit back, in some way, shape, or form. How big of a response likely depends on what they think they can get away with, without escalating to a point that would leave Tehran leveled and millions dead.

      I'd give a 50/50 of either a tit-for-tat attempted/successful assassination of a high-level US General/Official, or a more generalized attack on one/multiple US interests (not necessarily US-owned) in the AO—whether that may be embassies, airfields, bases, or naval assets. Personally, given even odds, I'd bet on a generalized attack through a Qod-financed/supported proxy that would give Ayatollah Khomeini the plausible cover to hurt US interests without having it be explicitly, obviously Iran, or risking open war with what he must surely see as an unstable and/or unpredictable man.

      Soleimani was not a good man, and I'm not upset at his death. But I do see the strike as reckless, pointlessly aggressive, and this will end in blood spilled that didn't have to be. The Middle East is a powder-keg; if ever there is a breaking point and we see the major players in open combat, it's going to be a horror-show. The President we have is not the one I'd trust to know when to back down.

      These times are getting too interesting.

      12 votes
  2. [8]
    Shahriar
    Link
    Soleimani's death has also been confirmed from Iran state networks. As someone who has been closely following recent spites between Trump and Khamenei, this can definitely be seen as an attack of...

    Soleimani's death has also been confirmed from Iran state networks. As someone who has been closely following recent spites between Trump and Khamenei, this can definitely be seen as an attack of war from Iran's government's point of view, and is an extremely worrying start to 2020. I hope it doesn't escalate to such.

    22 votes
    1. [7]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I don't think anyone could reasonably say this is not an act of war. To assassinate the commander of an enemy's elite armed force goes way beyond just a diplomatic incident. Imagine if another...

      this can definitely be seen as an attack of war from Iran's government's point of view

      I don't think anyone could reasonably say this is not an act of war. To assassinate the commander of an enemy's elite armed force goes way beyond just a diplomatic incident. Imagine if another country assassinated the head of the US Navy Seals. There's no way the USA would not retaliate. By killing General Soleimani, the USA has effectively declared war on Iran. All we can do now is wait and see if Iran accepts the invitation.

      28 votes
      1. [6]
        Loire
        Link Parent
        What would have been the proportional response to the recent Iranian backed attacks on American assets in Iraq?

        What would have been the proportional response to the recent Iranian backed attacks on American assets in Iraq?

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          A proportionate response to one civilian being killed might be killing 25 soldiers. That's proportionate, right? 25 for 1? And then, of course, assassinating one of the most senior figures in Iran...

          A proportionate response to one civilian being killed might be killing 25 soldiers. That's proportionate, right? 25 for 1? And then, of course, assassinating one of the most senior figures in Iran evens things out even more.

          Sarcasm aside, there's a saying: an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Is even a proportionate response appropriate? If someone hits you, and you hit back, is that person really go to just take their lumps and back off? Or will they take your counter-attack as an excuse to hit you again? And then you hit back again. And so on. Every time you respond to violence with violence, you're just encouraging the next round of violence. That's what a proportionate response achieves: an escalation in violence.

          Someone who doesn't want to start another war wouldn't look for a proportionate response. Someone who wants to avoid war would look for a different response.

          12 votes
          1. [2]
            Loire
            Link Parent
            I want to open up by saying I don't support Trump's decision in this matter. His choice in target for retaliation was disproportionate and will result in escalation. Getting that out of the way...

            I want to open up by saying I don't support Trump's decision in this matter. His choice in target for retaliation was disproportionate and will result in escalation.

            Getting that out of the way you can't use personal conflict as a corollary for geopolitics. Iran is testing the boundaries right now and if there isn't reprisals they will continue pushing the envelope until pushed back. Lets not forget this isn't just about a single American contractor. They have been attacking ships, drones, they bombed a major oil refinery which resulted in world powers having to release strategic reserves ro stsbilize the market. Iran is supporting militias and terrorists/freedom fighters throughout the region. They are testing the limits of what they can get away with.

            6 votes
            1. Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              I never said or implied there shouldn't be reprisals of some sort. I'm nowhere near expert enough to be able to devise the best response to Iran's actions against the USA, but I am at least smart...

              I never said or implied there shouldn't be reprisals of some sort.

              I'm nowhere near expert enough to be able to devise the best response to Iran's actions against the USA, but I am at least smart enough to recognise that killing a senior military figure is not that best response.

              3 votes
        2. [2]
          envy
          Link Parent
          Historically it seems like the appropriate response is approximately ten congressional investigations focusing heavily on political opponents use of private email servers.

          Historically it seems like the appropriate response is approximately ten congressional investigations focusing heavily on political opponents use of private email servers.

          4 votes
          1. Davada
            Link Parent
            Mmmm. Buttery males. My favorite.

            Mmmm. Buttery males. My favorite.

            1 vote
  3. Arshan
    Link
    So, I used to be really into Middle Eastern Geopolitics. Soleimani is huge in the region; he is the face of Iran's military expansion over the last decade. He has been on the ground in both Syria...

    So, I used to be really into Middle Eastern Geopolitics. Soleimani is huge in the region; he is the face of Iran's military expansion over the last decade. He has been on the ground in both Syria and Iraq. He is the leader of the Quds force, Iran's equivalant to the US' Green Berets, as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the actual military of Iran. He is not a low level figure. He is equivalant to at least a US head of a military branch, probably closer to the secretary of defense. If any country publically assassainated a US secretary of defense, it would rightfully be considered an act of war. Its possible Ayatollah Khamenei will not respond in kind, but especially with the protests in Novemeber, he will not want to cave to US aggression. He also gave an ultimatum; three days of mourning and then retaliation. I guess will see on Monday if I need to burn my draft card.

    So far 2020 really fucking sucks

    21 votes
  4. Flashynuff
    Link
    this is a needless escalation that brings the us dangerously close to entering yet another unwinnable war that will accomplish nothing other than throwing away incredible amounts of money and...

    this is a needless escalation that brings the us dangerously close to entering yet another unwinnable war that will accomplish nothing other than throwing away incredible amounts of money and countless human lives. so much for any hope of a nuclear deal with iran

    13 votes
  5. [5]
    SuperGracchiBros
    (edited )
    Link
    This is really, really bad right? Soleimani was high-ranking and apparently fairly popular. I can see this getting so much worse in the coming days, and Trump has no incentive to back down.

    This is really, really bad right? Soleimani was high-ranking and apparently fairly popular. I can see this getting so much worse in the coming days, and Trump has no incentive to back down.

    11 votes
    1. [4]
      no_exit
      Link Parent
      There's also all of those old Trump tweets from Obama's presidency where he repeatedly claimed that Obama would start a war with Iran to galvanize his base. So I expect things to get worse.

      There's also all of those old Trump tweets from Obama's presidency where he repeatedly claimed that Obama would start a war with Iran to galvanize his base. So I expect things to get worse.

      13 votes
      1. [2]
        patience_limited
        Link Parent
        On further reflection and research, I don't think this assassination can be characterised as solely due to Trump's agenda, though it's certainly in character for him to personalize national...

        On further reflection and research, I don't think this assassination can be characterised as solely due to Trump's agenda, though it's certainly in character for him to personalize national enmities.

        U.S. and Israeli military strategists and foreign policy hawks have been wishing for Soleimani's demise for years, but knew it wasn't likely to diminish Iran's aggressive proxy wars and they couldn't see how to accomplish it without making him a martyr. Mike Pompeo, on the other hand, is one of the U.S.'s most aggressive advocates for intervention.

        6 votes
        1. no_exit
          Link Parent
          Yeah, as @Diet_Coke mentioned below, Pompeo is one that truly scares me given his bizarre millenarianism.

          Yeah, as @Diet_Coke mentioned below, Pompeo is one that truly scares me given his bizarre millenarianism.

          1 vote
  6. [16]
    JoylessAubergine
    Link
    God people are dramatic. The internet feels like 4chan these days where people perversely want something to happen just for a bit of escapism. There will be a short term spike in Shia attacks...

    God people are dramatic. The internet feels like 4chan these days where people perversely want something to happen just for a bit of escapism.

    There will be a short term spike in Shia attacks around the middle east. A lot of sabrerattling and impassioned speeches about martyrdom. An unlucky American or Brit (or five) will be arrested for spying in Iran. There will be jockeying in Iran for Soleimani's position and quite few sighs of relief that the Americans got him before he got ambitions.

    Soleimani had been in the crosshairs for a long time and the longer the Americans left it the more he increased Irans influence across the region. In my opinion it was a good move by Trump and will be widely popular in the Middle East.

    10 votes
    1. [8]
      no_exit
      Link Parent
      You gotta be fucking kidding me. Yeah, anti-war, anti-interventionist people really actually WANT those things to happen, and America's leader unilaterally deciding to assassinate an important...

      God people are dramatic. The internet feels like 4chan these days where people perversely want something to happen just for a bit of escapism.

      You gotta be fucking kidding me. Yeah, anti-war, anti-interventionist people really actually WANT those things to happen, and America's leader unilaterally deciding to assassinate an important regional figure in the midst of major unrest is actually totally normal! It's going to mean a bunch more brown people definitely die, but who gives a fuck! You need to lay off whatever Freudian bullshit you're smoking. The internet has a problem with irony poisoned responses to events like this, but to say all of the fears people are expressing are somehow disingenuous after 20 years of this exact same shit happening is insulting.

      In my opinion it was a good move by Trump and will be widely popular in the Middle East.

      Iraq's PM has already condemned this as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, which it is. It's a boon for the Iranian right wing. You know what starting increasing Iran's regional influence in the first place? The US starting an illegal war and killing 500,000 Iraqis while pretending it's some genius puppetmaster. But sure, let's do something that will increase the chances of it happening again.

      29 votes
      1. [7]
        JoylessAubergine
        Link Parent
        Your first paragraph is largely hysterics. I think many do subconsciously want it because it confirms their views and gives them a soapbox to stand on. Anyone with real interest in being anti war...

        Your first paragraph is largely hysterics. I think many do subconsciously want it because it confirms their views and gives them a soapbox to stand on. Anyone with real interest in being anti war will follow a few experts see that they consider it an escalation but not a declaration of imminent war and will not spread hysterics but information to try and cool all the disaster merchants and warhawks rhetoric.

        Iraq's PM has already condemned this as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty

        Which it was. Iraq's PM is also so deep in Irans pockets that he cant see the sun.

        Lets talk about sovereignty. A few months ago Soleimani flew direct and uninvited to a security meeting the Iraqi PM was holding about the protests. Soleimani, taking chair of that meeting, told the PM that Iran knows how to handle protests and Soleimani will deal with it. That week there were 150 deaths because black clad snipers were put on the roof tops. Soleimani's snipers failed to cow the Iraqi protesters but now over 500 people have been killed and 20,000 have been seriously injured.

        You know what starting increasing Iran's regional influence in the first place? The US starting an illegal war and killing 500,000 Iraqis while pretending it's some genius puppetmaster. But sure, let's do something that will increase the chances of it happening again.

        The world didnt begin in 2001 and inaction doesn't prevent war. History is littered with examples. The world is less likely to stumble into war with 2 less men like Soleimani and Abu Mahdi running around with paramilitaries.

        11 votes
        1. [5]
          no_exit
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Trump did this without Congressional approval. This is a fact. More people are going to die as a direct result of this action. This is a fact, and one you literally said yourself in your own post....

          Your first paragraph is largely hysterics.

          Trump did this without Congressional approval. This is a fact. More people are going to die as a direct result of this action. This is a fact, and one you literally said yourself in your own post. People have legitimate fears of this escalating further. This is a fucking fact, regardless of your patronizing attitude. Of course it's not a guaranteed boots on the ground conventional war.

          inaction doesn't prevent war.

          This makes zero sense in reference to the Iraq War. It also makes zero sense when talking about Iran. Neither were, or are, serious threats to the US. But now, radical elements in Iran have a brand spanking new event to point to and inflame hatred against us. Trump wiped his ass with the nuclear deal, that would've done infinitely more to prevent war than any of this. Before Bush came out talking about how they were part of an 'Axis of Evil' (despite having nothing to do with 9/11, like our 'ally' Saudi Arabia), we were developing good relations with them! And that's after we deposed their democratically elected leader so oil corporations could continue stealing their wealth. Read a fucking history book: Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic

          The world is less likely to stumble into war with 2 less men like Soleimani and Abu Mahdi running around with paramilitaries.

          People said the exact same shit about Saddam, and that turned out wonderful. The chauvinism and hypocrisy of taking this kind of line in the country that's home to the CIA is absolutely incredible.

          23 votes
          1. [3]
            LukeZaz
            Link Parent
            I haven't really invested too much time reading in to this topic just yet, but I really gotta say your comments here have been coming off as incredibly hostile so far. I get if this topic is...

            I haven't really invested too much time reading in to this topic just yet, but I really gotta say your comments here have been coming off as incredibly hostile so far. I get if this topic is sensitive to you, but you're not going to convince anyone by angrily cursing at them.

            7 votes
            1. spit-evil-olive-tips
              Link Parent
              I hate to "both sides!" an issue...but this comment chain being hostile and counterproductive is not one-sided. Opening a comment with "Your first paragraph is largely hysterics" for example, is...

              I hate to "both sides!" an issue...but this comment chain being hostile and counterproductive is not one-sided. Opening a comment with "Your first paragraph is largely hysterics" for example, is extremely dismissive and not a great way to signal "we disagree on this issue but I still want to discuss it with you in good faith".

              Meta idea, Tildes could use a "both of you, knock it off" label that applies to a whole comment tree and not just one comment.

              10 votes
            2. no_exit
              Link Parent
              Yeah, I'm going to be hostile to someone who suggests that the negative responses to this are in fact driven by a desire to grandstand or virtue signal instead of genuine concern. I didn't need...

              Yeah, I'm going to be hostile to someone who suggests that the negative responses to this are in fact driven by a desire to grandstand or virtue signal instead of genuine concern. I didn't need this to 'confirm' my view that Trump is a wackjob, I'm not secretly happy it happened, and someone who says I am is not worth tempering my speech for.

              8 votes
          2. no_exit
            Link Parent
            Oh, and another thing I forgot to mention. In 1988, we also shot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing 290 people, and then never formally apologized.

            And that's after we deposed their democratically elected leader so oil corporations could continue stealing their wealth

            Oh, and another thing I forgot to mention. In 1988, we also shot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing 290 people, and then never formally apologized.

            3 votes
        2. NoblePath
          Link Parent
          Kindly name them...and establish their qualifications.

          a few experts

          Kindly name them...and establish their qualifications.

          4 votes
    2. [4]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [3]
        JoylessAubergine
        Link Parent
        Soleimani was a monster with 40 years of experience and was responsible for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Arab/Iraqi/Kurdish deaths and hundreds of western deaths. He was ruthlessly...

        Soleimani was a monster with 40 years of experience and was responsible for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Arab/Iraqi/Kurdish deaths and hundreds of western deaths. He was ruthlessly competent. If Iran wanted war he could have gave it to them at any time in the past 20 years. They don't. There is no possibility of any shade of victory for the people in charge. They are not fighting a religious war like Osama Bin Laden, they dont want to live in caves while the MIC brings down america and brings forth a galvanised global ummah.

        Most of the Iranian elite are not the zealots of the revolution any more. They are IRGC commanders with tangible self interests

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          Custos
          Link Parent
          I haven’t been on Tildes for a while. I was expecting a more reasoned response from folks. The world is the safest and most stable it’s been in centuries. https://ourworldindata.org/war-and-peace...

          I haven’t been on Tildes for a while. I was expecting a more reasoned response from folks.

          The world is the safest and most stable it’s been in centuries. https://ourworldindata.org/war-and-peace

          This is a man that has facilitated the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands of civilians.

          He was a uniformed member of a military actively responsible for the recent death of an American citizen and the attack on a US embassy.

          There was a unanimous security council resolution passed in 2015 preventing his travel outside of Iran.

          This is all too much. I now can understand why the 1940s happened.

          4 votes
          1. no_exit
            Link Parent
            Mohammad bin Salman is somewhere laughing at all of this, I'm sure.

            facilitated the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands of civilians.
            actively responsible for the recent death of an American citizen and the attack on a US embassy.

            Mohammad bin Salman is somewhere laughing at all of this, I'm sure.

            7 votes
    3. envy
      Link Parent
      The concern isn't that Iran wants a war. The concern is that Trump wants a war. Because he thinks that is how you win re-election.

      The concern isn't that Iran wants a war. The concern is that Trump wants a war. Because he thinks that is how you win re-election.

      5 votes
    4. Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      I really hope you are right, but I fear you are not. :/

      I really hope you are right, but I fear you are not. :/

      2 votes
    5. [2]
      determinism
      Link Parent
      https://tildes.net/~news/kpp/irgc_missile_attack_on_us_base_in_iraq_is_revenge_for_soleimani_killing
      2 votes
      1. JoylessAubergine
        Link Parent
        I replied to Asimov in that thread but this is a simple, face saving message that says they aren't escalating for war.

        I replied to Asimov in that thread but this is a simple, face saving message that says they aren't escalating for war.

  7. [3]
    Diet_Coke
    Link
    One thing I havent seen anywhere is there's a sizable contingent within the administration who are literally praying for an apocalypse because they think Jesus will come take them to heaven first....

    One thing I havent seen anywhere is there's a sizable contingent within the administration who are literally praying for an apocalypse because they think Jesus will come take them to heaven first. That includes Pompeo and Pence and any other crazies they've managed to get into the administration - which, three years in, is probably quite a few people. I feel like that is an important piece of context with which to understand this decision. They are hoping for Iran to nuke Israel which they think will fulfill biblical end times prophecy.

    9 votes
    1. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I've seen this theory around for a while. It's supposedly the explanation for the USA's ongoing support of Israel (through multiple American administrations): the evangelists in the USA believe...

      I've seen this theory around for a while. It's supposedly the explanation for the USA's ongoing support of Israel (through multiple American administrations): the evangelists in the USA believe that Armageddon is going to happen in Israel, so the Holy Land needs to be defended.

      2 votes
  8. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Looks like Trump's re-election campaign is off to a great start.

    Looks like Trump's re-election campaign is off to a great start.

    7 votes
  9. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      The next guy? The goal is to use this misdirection to eat news cycles that would otherwise be spent on impeachment. The goal is that Trump IS the next guy.

      The next guy? The goal is to use this misdirection to eat news cycles that would otherwise be spent on impeachment. The goal is that Trump IS the next guy.

      4 votes
  10. [3]
    JakeTheDog
    Link
    What I don't understand is how helicopters were able to get close enough to high-ranking military officials at an airport. Does Iran or Iraq not have any air defenses? Something temporary or...

    What I don't understand is how helicopters were able to get close enough to high-ranking military officials at an airport. Does Iran or Iraq not have any air defenses? Something temporary or mobile? It seems like there was a degree of incompetency or ignorance here. If it were fighter jets or stealth bombers that would be different.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      patience_limited
      Link Parent
      It was a drone strike, and the drones were already in position. Small profile drones are as hard to hit as missiles, which is part of the reason that the U.S. was so alarmed by the prior Iranian...

      It was a drone strike, and the drones were already in position.

      Small profile drones are as hard to hit as missiles, which is part of the reason that the U.S. was so alarmed by the prior Iranian takedown of a U.S. drone, and the Iranian drone attacks on Saudi oil refineries.

      9 votes
      1. JakeTheDog
        Link Parent
        Ah, the Wikipedia Current Events portal chose this source which said it was a helicopter. But indeed, a drone makes more sense.

        Ah, the Wikipedia Current Events portal chose this source which said it was a helicopter. But indeed, a drone makes more sense.