America on the warpath with Iran

———————————————————————————————————————-

CNN

US strike that killed Iranian commander starkly divides US lawmakers

January 3, 2020

Washington (CNN)The US airstrike that killed Iran Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani generated starkly different reactions along party lines Thursday night, with Republicans heaping praise on President Donald Trump and Democrats expressing concerns about the legality and consequences of the attack.

The Pentagon confirmed in a statement that Trump had ordered the strike, saying Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”

“I appreciate President @realDonaldTrump’s bold action against Iranian aggression,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a fierce Trump ally, wrote in a tweet Thursday. “To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more.” Two sources tell CNN that key Senate staff on relevant committees on national security and appropriations, along with leadership staff, will be briefed Friday afternoon in a classified setting by administration officials.

Some key members of Congress — such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who is a member of the congressional Gang of Eight leaders, who are briefed on classified matters — had not been made aware of the attack ahead of time. It’s not clear how many other lawmakers had advance notice of the strike.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for an immediate briefing to the full Congress on the US strike. In a written statement Thursday, Pelosi said that the airstrike “risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence” and took issue with the strike being carried out without consultation with Congress.
The Pentagon added that “this strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans” and the US “will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

SOURCE = CNN

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

bloomberg

U.S. Is Sending More Forces to Mideast as Iran Tensions Escalate

January 3, 2020

The U.S. is bolstering its military presence in the Middle East after an American strike killed a key Iranian commander in Iraq, with plans to send about 2,800 troops from the Army’s 82nd Airborne division to Kuwait.

The new U.S. contingent will join roughly 700 troops dispatched to Kuwait earlier this week as part of the division’s rapid-reaction “ready battalion,” according to two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified discussing the deployment. The U.S. already had about 60,000 personnel in the region.

The move comes after Donald Trump ordered a U.S. airstrike that killed one of Iran’s most powerful generals and sent global markets reeling as the president said the military leader was plotting attacks on Americans.

“General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught!” Trump tweeted Friday. “He should have been taken out many years ago!” he added.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said earlier Friday that the strike was in response to the threat of an “imminent attack.” He would not provide details about the threat other than to say it was confined to the Middle East and that U.S. intelligence justified the airstrike.

Iran’s Supreme Leader quickly threatened “severe retaliation” in response. The U.S. State Department has issued a directive urging American citizens to leave Iraq immediately due to the tensions.

After the strike, Pompeo called counterparts and officials in France, the U.K., China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, reiterating his message of de-escalation, according to the State Department.

Oil futures in London and New York at one point surged by more than 4%, gold hit the highest in four months and 10-year Treasury yields headed for the biggest drop in three weeks. The S&P 500 Index fell less than 1%, paring losses that were poised to be the biggest since October as some stock investors took the opportunity to hunt for bargains.

Soleimani, who led proxy militias that extended Iran’s power across the Middle East, was killed in a strike in Baghdad authorized by Trump, the Defense Department said in a statement late Thursday. Trump, who is staying at Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, said on Twitter Friday that “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad urged its citizens to leave the country.

SOURCE = Bloomberg

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

npr

Trump-Directed Attack That Killed Iranian General Raises U.S.-Iran Tensions

January 3, 2020

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/793257372/793257373

The U.S. killed Iran’s top general in a strike at Baghdad airport. NPR’s Noel King talks to Robin Wright, contributing writer to The New Yorker, about rising diplomatic tensions in the region.

SOURCE = NPR

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

BuzzFeed

A Top Iranian Military Commander Was Killed In A US Airstrike In Baghdad

January 2, 2020

One of the most powerful men in Iran was among those killed in an airstrike near Baghdad’s international airport early Friday amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed when rockets destroyed two vehicles traveling near the airport. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces was also killed.

The Pentagon confirmed Soleimani’s death, saying the airstrike was ordered by President Donald Trump, in part, to deter “future Iranian attack plans.” “Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Pentagon said. As the Middle East woke up to the news of Soleimani’s death on Friday, the US embassy in Baghdad urged American citizens in Iraq to leave the country immediately.

The airstrike that killed Soleimani came after pro-Iran protesters attacked the embassy in response to other US-led airstrikes in the region. Trump took a hardline on Iran throughout his campaign and into his presidency. He withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated under Barack Obama and imposed new sanctions against the country. Trump posted a picture of the US flag on his Twitter account after the Pentagon confirmed the strike had taken place.

Later Friday morning, the president tweeted that Soleimani “killed or badly wounded” thousands of Americans and that he was “both hated and feared” in Iran. “They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!” Trump tweeted. Soleimani’s death will spur fears of strong retaliation from Iran against Israel or American interests in the Middle East. Senior Iranian officials condemned the attack and vowed retaliation. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the airstrike was a “cowardly act” and “another sign of America’s frustration and helplessness in the region.”

SOURCE = BuzzFeed

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

Aljazeera

Iran’s Soleimani killed in US air raid: All the latest updates

January 3, 2020

Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated on Friday after a US air raid killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, or PMF. The Pentagon confirmed the attack at Baghdad’s international airport, saying it came “at the direction of the president”.

Soleimani and al-Muhandis’s deaths are a potential turning point in the Middle East and are expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and the forces it backs in the region against Israel and US interests. Here are all the latest updates amid the heightened tensions as of Friday, January 3:

Zarif: Assassination of Soleimani act of ‘international terrorism’

The killing of Iranian Quds force chief Soleimani by the US in Iraq was an act of “international terrorism”, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday according to state TV. “It was an extremely dangerous, foolish escalation … He was the most effective force fighting against Islamic State and al Qaeda terrorists,” Zarif said.

3,000 additional US troops heading to Middle East: Officials

The US said it is sending nearly 3,000 more troops to the Middle East with defence officials saying the soldiers were from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials said the troops were in addition to about 700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne who deployed to Kuwait earlier this week after the storming of the US embassy compound in Baghdad by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters.

SOURCE = AlJazeera

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

Foriegn Policy

U.S. Strike Kills One of Iran’s Most Powerful Military Leaders

January 2, 2020

In what could mark the most dramatic escalation of conflict in the Middle East since the Iraq War, a U.S.  drone strike early Friday morning killed one of Iran’s most powerful military leaders, Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani.  The reported death of Suleimani, a leader in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the head of the secretive Quds Force, which conducts military operations in the region, came just days after Iranian-backed militias attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in a series of violent protests. Those demonstrations were considered retaliation by Tehran for a previous U.S. airstrike that on Sunday killed 25 fighters of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia in Iraq. The U.S. military said that the earlier strike was itself a retaliation for the killing of a U.S. contractor at an Iraqi military base.

U.S. officials Thursday night confirmed reports on Iraqi television that Suleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s international airport. The Defense Department said in a statement that Suleimani was targeted in part because he “orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months,” including the one that cost the life of the contractor, and that he had “also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.” “At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Pentagon statement said.

The statement said that Suleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.” Some experts suggested that what had been, until now, a low-level war between the United States and Iran could soon explode. “We are moving into a period where there is a strong possibility of escalating war and direct conflict between the United States and Iran. The Middle East is already in flames from conflict and large-scale protest movements. It may now get much, much worse,” Seth Jones, an expert on Middle East extremism and unconventional warfare at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Foreign Policy.

SOURCE = Foreign Policy

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

CNN

The killing of Iran’s General Soleimani is hugely significant

January 3, 2020

The significance of Thursday’s US strike against Qasem Soleimani cannot be overstated because he ran Iran’s military operations across the Middle East. Iraqi state TV reported Thursday that Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, was killed by rockets hitting his vehicle near Baghdad International Airport. The Pentagon then confirmed it was an American strike ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Soleimani.

Here is how General Joseph Votel, the then-commander of US Central Command that oversees American military operations in the Middle East, explained Soleimani’s role in 2018: “Wherever you see Iranian activity, you see Qasem Soleimani, whether it is in Syria, whether it is in Iraq, whether it is in Yemen, he is there and it is the Quds Force, the organization which he leads, that I think is the principal threat as we look at this and the principal ones that are stoking this destabilizing activity.”
During the past decade Iran has conducted proxy wars across the Middle East in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and it also controls much of Lebanon through its proxy force there, Hezbollah. Soleimani was in charge of all these operations. Soleimani also oversaw operations against US servicemen in Iraq by Shia militias in which hundreds of American servicemen were killed following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. While eager to wind down US wars in the Middle East, President Trump has proven willing to respond militarily when American lives are at risk. He authorized five airstrikes on Sunday against targets in Iraq and Syria that were associated with an Iran-backed militia that the US blamed for a recent attack on an American military base in Iraq that resulted in the death of a US contractor and in which several American servicemen were wounded.

SOURCE = CNN

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

BBC News

Qasem Soleimani: Iran vows ‘severe revenge’ for top general’s death

January 3, 2020

Iran’s supreme leader has vowed “severe revenge” on those responsible for the death of top military commander Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was killed by an air strike at Baghdad airport early on Friday ordered by US President Donald Trump. The 62-year-old spearheaded Iran Middle East operations as head of the elite Quds Force. Mr Trump said he killed or wounded thousands of Americans. The killing marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

US officials have said 3,000 additional troops will be sent to the Middle East as a precaution. Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran, behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reported directly to the ayatollah and Soleimani was hailed as a heroic national figure.

Under his 21-year leadership of the Quds Force, Iran bolstered Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militant groups in Lebanon; expanded its military presence in Iraq and Syria; and orchestrated Syria’s offensive against rebel groups in that country’s long civil war.

SOURCE = BBC News

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

FT

Oil prices jump and markets slide on escalating US-Iran tensions

January 3, 2020

Oil prices jumped while global stocks fell on Friday after the US killed a top Iranian military commander in an air strike, shoving geopolitics to the top of investors’ agenda for the new year. Brent crude jumped 3.2 per cent to more than $68 a barrel, putting the international oil benchmark on track for its biggest gain in a month. US stocks dropped as the benchmark S&P 500 slid 0.4 per cent — though better than a fall of 1.1 per cent in earlier trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite also clawed back a portion of their losses in afternoon trading and were down 0.6 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively. In addition to Mideast tensions, investors parsed a survey showing the contraction in the American manufacturing sector worsened last month.

The materials sector was the worst performer in the S&P 500. Stocks also were down in Asia and Europe, with Germany’s Dax leading declines with a 1.5 per cent fall. “Geopolitical risks are still alive and kicking,” said Elwin de Groot, head of macro strategy at Rabobank. “Over the past few years these risks have undoubtedly affected markets, but hardly with any lasting impact. Yet geopolitics remains important, if only because it could always turn into a more nasty factor for markets at some point.” Assets seen as shelters during times of strife pushed higher. Gold climbed by 1.3 per cent to $1,548 an ounce, a near four-month high. Government bonds rallied, pushing the yield on 10-year US Treasuries down by 7.6 basis points to 1.81 per cent. Similar price gains were seen in UK, German and other key European government bonds. The Japanese yen — a classic barometer of investors’ levels of fear — also pushed higher. The currency pushed the dollar down by 0.6 per cent to below ¥108 — the yen’s strongest point since late October.

SOURCE = Financial Times

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

FARS

Iran’s Top General Qassem Soleimani Martyred in US Targeted Assassination

January 3, 2020

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force Major General Qassem Soleimani was martyred in a targeted assassination attack by US aircraft at Baghdad International Airport early Friday morning. “General Qassem Soleimani has been martyred by the US helicopters after lifetime efforts,” the IRGC said in a statement early Friday morning. The airstrike also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shabi. The PMF media arm said the two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.

A PMF official said seven people were martyred by missiles fired by the US helicopters at Baghdad International Airport.

He said the dead included the PMF airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda. The Pentagon confirmed the attack in a statement. The attack came amid tensions that started by the US attack on PMF units that killed 25 Iraqi popular forces. A day later, Iraqi people attacked the US embassy in Baghdad. On Wednesday President Donald Trump ordered about 750 US soldiers deployed to the Middle East. US officials earlier suggested they were to engage in further retaliatory attacks in Iraq. The developments also represent a major downturn in Iraq-US relations that could further undermine US influence in the region and American troops in Iraq and weaken Washington’s hand in its pressure campaign against Iran.

US President Donald Trump was vacationing on his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, but sent out a tweet of an American flag. The attack represents a dramatic escalation by the US toward Iran after months of tensions. The tensions take root in Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, struck under his predecessor.

SOURCE = FARS News Agency

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

EuroNews

World reacts to killing of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani

January 3, 2020

After a US drone strike killed the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport on Friday, reactions have been pouring in from around the world. US politicians were divided across party lines with some Republican politicians mainly praising the attack, while some Democrat politicians said it was “reckless,” warning that it’ll likely raise tensions in the region. Iran considers the assassination of Qassem Soleimani to be an “act of war”.

In reaction to the killing, the hashtag #WorldWar3 and #WWIII quickly started trending on Twitter. According to the Pentagon, US President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military to take “decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing “a man once referred to by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a “living martyr of the revolution.” The attack is expected to draw severe Iranian retaliation against Israel and American interests. The Defense Department said Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

The reality is that the US has done everything in the past few years to provoke the Iranians,” Vaez pointed out. Iranian state television called Trump’s order to kill Soleimani “the biggest miscalculation by the U.S.” since World War II. “The people of the region will no longer allow Americans to stay,” it said. For Iran, the killing represents the loss of a cultural icon who represented national pride and resilience while facing U.S. sanctions. While careful to avoid involving himself in politics, Soleimani’s profile rose sharply as U.S. and Israeli officials blamed him for Iranian proxy attacks abroad.

SOURCE = Euro News

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

Metro

Inside the burned wreckage of US embassy after Iraq protest

January 2, 2020

Pictures have emerged showing the inside of the burnt out US embassy in Baghdad after pro-Iran demonstrators broke in and torched it. Protesters set fires inside the entrance to the embassy on Tuesday after riots broke out during a funeral for 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia Kataeb Hezbollah in Iraq. They had been killed in US airstrikes in the country on Sunday. Hundreds of Iraqi Shiite demonstrators, led by the pro-Iran militant group, smashed security cameras on walls around the embassy, rattled the main gate and set on fire three empty trailers used by the guards. Witnesses said the crowd could be seen trying to scale the walls of the US compound shouting ‘down, down USA’ and ‘Death to America’. Clashes continued on Wednesday when demonstrators hurled stones while US forces fired tear gas. But the demonstrators finally ended their siege after commanders of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), of which Kataeb Hezbollah is a member, asked its supporters to stand down. It said in a statement: ‘You delivered your message.’
PRI_115602365

 

PRI_115615299

SOURCE = Metro News

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

Reuters

U.S. sees signs Iran or proxies may be planning more attacks: Pentagon chief

January 2, 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday there were indications Iran or forces it backs may be planning additional attacks, warning that the “game has changed” and it was possible the United States might have to take preemptive action to protect American lives. “There are some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks, that is nothing new … we’ve seen this for two or three months now,” Esper told reporters, without providing evidence or details about the U.S. assessment.

“If that happens then we will act and by the way, if we get word of attacks or some type indication, we will take preemptive action as well to protect American forces to protect American lives.”

Iranian-backed demonstrators hurled rocks at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during two days of protests, then withdrew on Wednesday after Washington dispatched extra troops. U.S. President Donald Trump, who faces a re-election campaign in 2020, accused Iran of orchestrating the violence. He threatened on Tuesday to retaliate against Iran but said later he did not want war. Iran has rejected the accusation. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi criticized American officials, in a statement, saying they have “the astounding audacity” to blame Iran for protests sparked by U.S. air strikes.

The unrest outside the U.S. embassy followed American strikes on Sunday against bases of the Tehran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group. Washington said the air strikes, which killed 25 people, were in retaliation for missile attacks that killed a U.S. contractor in northern Iraq last week. On Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned U.S. attacks on Iranian-allied militias in Iraq, blaming the United States for violence in Iran’s neighbor. The protests marked a new turn in the shadow war between Washington and Tehran playing out across the Middle East.

“The game has changed and we are prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region,” Esper said.

SOURCE = Reuters

———————————————————————————————————————-

———————————————————————————————————————-

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s