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Op-Ed: Assassinated Iranian commander was on a diplomatic mission

The US assassinated the top Iranian general on Thursday night.

Iraq PM’s statement

A recent article reports: “Iraq’s Caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has said that Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was set to deliver Tehran’s reply to an earlier Saudi message regarding de-escalation talks mediated by Baghdad when he was assassinated.”

The Iraqi PM made his remarks during an emergency session of the Iraqi parliament that passed a non-binding resolution the expels US troops from Iraq. The PM said he was due to meet Soleimani at 8:30 AM local time on Friday but Soleimani had been assassinated a few hours earlier.

US assassination hurts peace efforts

The US action undercuts efforts by Iran and Saudi Arabia to lessen tensions between them. It seems that the US wants tensions to increase rather than decrease as it claims. While the peace effort may not be totally stopped it appears difficult for Iran to safely deliver its messages without its messengers being targeted. Surely the US knew about the ongoing process and deliberately chose to disrupt it.

Saudi peace overtures were part of the country’s plan B after the US did not attack Iran. Given the US escalation of the situation the Saudis may now simply sit back and await an eventual attack by the US on Iran. This could come as retaliation for any Iranian or its supporters strikes on US interests as a response to the assassination of Soleimani. The US has openly threatened more assassinations, and attacks on Iranian cultural sites as a response to any attacks on US interests.

While US supporters such as NATO have asked Iran not to retaliate, there is little criticism of the US action with NATO saying that it stands with the US. However, even if Iran wants to prevent any retaliation it is unlikely to be able to control many of its supporters. Tensions and conflict are most likely to increase and this in large part is the responsibility of the US. It not only assassinated Soleimani it also deliberately sabotaged diplomatic processes that could have lessened tensions.

There have been contradictory reports as to whether the US will actually withdraw from Iraq. The Iraqi parliament actually needs to pass a law cancelling the mandate and ejecting US troops from Iraq. It has not done that yet. We await Trump tweets to further confuse us as to what is happening.

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