He Finally Did It Friday ReadsPosted: January 3, 2020
Happy New Year!
I wish I could say this with a lot of hope in my heart but after last night’s late news we’ll be lucky at this point if we avoid World War III. Also, this time there will be no allies because Cadet Bone Spurs thinks we can just go it alone and has managed to offend every friendly country in the world. His Maximum Pressure approach to the world has not only left us friendless but more likely facing increased violence around the world.
Trump’s freaky christofascists have been frothing at the mouth for their mythical end times. I suggest they grab a bucket and go help Australia if they’re really all concerned about the earth ending in fire. Problem is my freakish friends, according to your specific mythology, a Temple has to exist that no one’s built yet so I’d think twice about travelling any where around the world or signing up for the diplomatic corps or the marine corps for that matter. We are just one target rich environment now.
Since this assassination reminds me a bit of the Arch Duke Ferdinand one that kicked off World War I I decided to give you some paintings from the period. This collection comes from the UK’s Imperial War Museum: “6 STUNNING FIRST WORLD WAR ARTWORKS BY WOMEN WAR ARTISTS.” You can read the backstories on the painters and their work at the site. Basically, the IWM commissioned the women to capture the women’s effort in the so-called War to End all Wars.
So, here’s what’s gone down so far. The U.S. directly targeted and killed an Iranian general that was, in fact a very bad man. However, there are a lot of very bad men in the world that need to disappear and if they did, no one would care. This one has quite a few people that care about him and they all have no problem with dying for a cause as they’ve proven over the last 40 years. This is from the NYT: “U.S. Strike in Iraq Kills Qassim Suleimani, Commander of Iranian Forces”.
Iran’s top security and intelligence commander was killed early Friday in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that was authorized by President Trump, American officials said.
The commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, who led the powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed along with several officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport.
General Suleimani was the architect of nearly every significant operation by Iranian intelligence and military forces over the past two decades, and his death was a staggering blow for Iran at a time of sweeping geopolitical conflict.
The strike was also a serious escalation of Mr. Trump’s growing confrontation with Tehran, one that began with the death of an American contractor in Iraq in late December.
Please tell me we didn’t do all this for a Defense Department Mercenary Contractor. I have yet to hear who this person actually was but if it’s the result of Rumsfeld’s war privatization efforts I’d totally believe it.
It took awhile for the Defense Department to take credit for the assassination of Suleimani and others so we all got our news from Iraqi and then Irani state TV. Sort’ve like we always hear about news about Russia from Russian State TV first. The Spawn of the Orange Swamp Thing seemed to know more about the attack than just about any one but definitely more than Congress and the all important Gang of 8 who handle that sort’ve thing for the country. Here’s a bit from Hill Reporter: “Deleted Tweet From Eric Trump Hints He May Have Known About Strike Against Iranian Military Leader Days Ahead Of Time’. Doesn’t that bring you comfort and joy or the season? You know, Peace on Earth, Good Will to Man and all that jazz?
The protests that broke out around the embassy got an off the cuff tweet from Eric the Dim.
Those protests broke out on December 31 of last year, according to the New York Times. On that same date, Eric Trump sent out a tweet, which has since been deleted. Twitter user @realTuckFrumper had a screengrab of the tweet, which suggested military action was coming forth.
“Bout to open up a big ol’ can of whoop ass,” Eric Trump’s tweet read. It was followed with a flag emoji.
Other users on social media also verified the tweet as being legitimately posted by Eric Trump on that date. There’s no indication or confirmation that he was indeed aware of military action occurring later on in the week, but the words from Eric Trump caught many people’s attention after the airstrikes were announced.
The UK Guardian has a subtle lede this morning over an Op Ed penned by Mohammad Ali Shabani. “Donald Trump’s assassination of Qassem Suleimani will come back to haunt him. The Quds force leader had the status of national hero even among secular Iranians. His death could act as a rallying cry”
The US has assassinated Qassem Suleimani, the famed leader of Iran’s Quds force, alongside a senior commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. To grasp what may come next, it is vital to understand not only who these men were but also the system that produced them.
Nicknamed the “Shadow Commander” in the popular press, Suleimani spent his formative years on the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s, when Saddam Hussein – who at the time enjoyed the support of western and Arab powers – was attempting to destroy the emerging Islamic Republic. But few remember that his first major mission as commander of the Quds force – the extraterritorial branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards – was involved in implicit coordination with the United States as it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The Taliban were, and to some extent remain, a mutual enemy. That alliance of convenience ended in 2002 when US president George W Bush notoriously branded Iran a member of the “Axis of Evil”.
In the years after, Suleimani laboured to bleed the US military in places like Iraq. He succeeded. After having spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of troops, Washington withdrew from Iraq – partly as a result of Iranian pressure on the Iraqi government – in 2011.
But Suleimani had little time to celebrate. His attention was turned to containing fallout from the Arab spring, focusing his energy on propping up the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. That development saw the creation of a region-wide network of Iran-backed militias numbering more than 100,000 men, unprecedented Iranian military collaboration with Russia and the transformation of Hezbollah into a force capable of operating on significant scale outside Lebanon’s borders.
By 2014, when he successfully halted Islamic State’s attempt to overrun Iraq, Suleimani was feted as a hero among Iraqis, alongside the local commanders including al-Muhandis. The same response was evident in Iran, where he quickly became a household name and was rumoured as a potential future president – a trend that was strengthened by the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
So the US has not merely killed an Iranian military commander but also a highly popular figure, viewed as a guardian of Iran even among secular-minded Iranians. And with the assassination of al-Muhandis, the Trump administration has put itself in the position of having killed the operational commander of a large branch of the Iraqi armed forces.
Some will characterise the killings as a huge blow to Iran’s proxy capabilities and wider policy in the region. But such an approach ignores how the Iranian system is structured.
As reported last night on MSNBC by a very shaken Andrea Mitchell on The Last Word, this is exactly why Israel–who could’ve taken him out at a moment’s notice–never gave it a second thought. The second and third order conditions were considered to be worse than any benefit from the assassination. Mitchell actually interviewed SOD Mike Esper in what turned out to be an interview worth dissecting.
Even more disturbing was an interview later on a special Rachel Maddow with “Brett McGurk, who served as special envoy on the global coalition to defeat ISIS under Pres. Obama and Pres. Trump, talks to Rachel Maddow about the serious implications of the strike on Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.” You may watch the video but here’s the bottom line: ” McGurk on US strike on Soleimani: ‘We need to presume that we are now in a state of war with Iran’.”
Iraq is truly in a bad place now. And, I know, it’s not like we haven’t put them in a bad place since Dubya’s adventures there at the behest of all those Chicken Hawk Cabinet members of his. But, this Op Ed from the UK Independent describes the situation in more detail “Iraq’s worst fears have come true – they are now at the centre of a proxy war between the US and Iran. General Qassem Soleimani made a terrible mistake in the final weeks of his life by underestimating the popular protests across Iraq. Donald Trump has made a bigger one in killing the influential commander.” This is written by Patrick Cockburn.
I spoke to Abu Alaa al-Walai, the leader of Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada, a splinter group of Kata’ib Hezbollah, one of whose camps had been destroyed by a drone attack in August. He said that 50 tonnes of weapons and ammunition had been blown up, blaming the Israelis and the Americans acting in concert. Asked if his men would attack US forces in Iraq in the event of a US-Iran war, he said: “Absolutely yes.” Later I visited the camp, called al-Saqr, on the outskirts of Baghdad where a massive explosion had gutted sheds and littered the burned-out compound with shattered pieces of equipment.
I saw other pro-Iranian paramilitary leaders at this time. The drone attacks had made them edgy, but I got the impression that they did not really expect a US-Iran war. Qais al-Khazali, the head of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, told me that he did not think there would be a war “because Trump does not want one.” As evidence of this, he pointed to the failure of Trump to retaliate after the drone attack on Saudi oil facilities earlier in September that Washington had been blamed on Iran.
In fact, events developed very differently from what both I and the paramilitary commanders expected. A few days after I had spoken to them, there was a small demonstration in central Baghdad demanding jobs, public services and an end to corruption. The security forces and the pro-Iranian paramilitaries opened fire, killing and wounding many peaceful demonstrators. Though Qais al-Khazali later claimed that he and other Hashd leaders were trying to thwart a US-Israeli conspiracy, he had said nothing to me about it. It seemed likely that General Soleimani, wrongly suspected that the paltry demonstrations were a real threat and had ordered the pro-Iranian paramilitaries to open fire and put a plan for suppressing the demonstrations into operation.
All this could have been disastrous for Iranian influence in Iraq. Soleimani had made the classic mistake of a successful general in imaging that “a whiff of grapeshot” will swiftly repress any signs of popular discontent. Sometimes this works, often it does not – and Iraq turned out to belong to the second category.
General Soleimani died in the wake of his greatest failure and misjudgement. But the manner of his killing may convince many Shia Iraqis that the threat to Iraqi independence from the US is greater than that from Iran. The next few days will tell if the protest movement, that has endured the violence used against it with much bravery, will be deflated by the killings at Baghdad airport.
This Dexter Filkins piece in The New Yorker from September 2013 is a good place to read a profile on Soleimani. The NYT also has a profile “Qassim Suleimani, Master of Iran’s Intrigue, Built a Shiite Axis of Power in Mideast. The commander helped direct wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and he became the face of Iran’s efforts to build a regional bloc of Shiite power.” This link is for that article which was published today.
General Suleimani was at the vanguard of Iran’s revolutionary generation, joining the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in his early 20s after the 1979 uprising that enshrined the country’s Shiite theocracy.
He rose quickly during the brutal Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. And since 1998, he was the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ influential Quds Force, the foreign-facing arm of Iran’s security apparatus, melding intelligence work with a military strategy of nurturing proxy forces across the world.
In the West, he was seen as a clandestine force behind an Iranian campaign of international terrorism. He and other Iranian officials were designated as terrorists by the United States and Israel in 2011, accused of a plot to kill the ambassador of Saudi Arabia, one of Iran’s chief enemies in the region, in Washington. Last year, in April, the entire Quds Force was listed as a foreign terrorism group by the Trump administration.
But in Iran, many saw him as a larger-than-life hero, particularly within security circles. Anecdotes about his asceticism and quiet charisma joined to create an image of a warrior-philosopher who became the backbone of a nation’s defense against a host of enemies.
He was close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Friday issued a statement calling for three days of public mourning and “forceful revenge,” in a declaration that amounted to a threat of retaliation against the United States.
“His departure to God does not end his path or his mission,” he said.
All this means is that many Shia Islam followers in quite a few countries are not going to let him go quietly into the great night. It also means that Congress will have another likely investigation on its hands which means a lot more on Nancy Peolosi’s To Do LIst.
So, this is a long post and it has taken me a good deal of time to compile but I hope it will give us a basis for conversation today. I hope that your New Year will be wonderful and that you will be surrounded by all the family, love, and happiness you deserve!!! May all Goodness in the Universe protect us on this where yet another war seems inevitable!
What’s on you reading and blogging list today?
Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.