Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani became "complacent" while traveling to and from Iraq, and did not believe the U.S. would target him, U.S. military officials told FDD's Long War Journal. The military was able to reliably track his movements at times.
by Abbas Milani via Project Syndicate
One hopes that Iranian leaders' domestic woes and deep desire for self-preservation will lead them to embrace symbolic acts of retaliation in response to the recent assassination of the security and intelligence chief Qassem Suleimani.
by Seth Frantzman
The National Review
January 4, 2020
by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness
The United States is trying to square a circle, remaining strong and deterring dangerous elements, but to do so for U.S. interests—interests that increasingly seem to
by Jakub Grygiel via American Interest
Russia recently announced that it will spend $500 million to fix and update the commercial port of Tartus in Syria. In 2017 Moscow had renewed its lease over the port, signing an agreement with Damascus in a clear show of support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But Russian (and before 1991, Soviet) naval presence there dates back to the early 1970s.
Following Qasem Soleimani's assassination in Iraq, there has been heightened concern about an Iranian reaction. But due to Tehran's economic hardship, decreased support from the public in Middle East societies and international isolation, Iran isn't likely to seek revenge militarily against the United States.
The top military commander’s influence went beyond his military prowess, and will be something that no successor can likely replicate.
The killing of Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday generated a predictably partisan flurry of praise and condemnation. But the context in which the decision to kill him was made is being lost in angry rhetoric, explains Fred Kagan in a New York Daily News op-ed. Only once the US stops looking for simplistic solutions and stops assigning blame either to Obama or Trump do we stand a chance of building a policy that can achieve an end to this conflict at an acceptable cost. Continue here.
Qassem Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any terrorist leader since Osama bin Laden. No one should mourn his death. In Iran, however, he was a revered figure like former US Defense Secretary James Mattis, notes Michael Rubin in a National Interest op-ed. As the second- and third-order effects of his death become clear, it is imperative that the US national security bureaucracy alongside Congress work overtime on a nonpartisan, broad strategy to contain the negative and exploit the positive. Learn more here.
The US air strike that killed Soleimani and Muhandis was not simply a sharp departure in the Trump administration’s policy toward Tehran. It also marks a larger shift in America’s response to Iranian influence and provocations in the Middle East, writes Hal Brands in a Bloomberg op-ed. President Trump has gambled that an extraordinary escalation will allow it to reset control of an intensifying US-Iran confrontation. And while it may actually work, weathering the diplomatic and military fallout will require far greater skill and competence than Trump’s team has displayed so far. Continue here.
Last week, in the context of the attacks by Iranian-backed militias on the US Embassy in Baghdad and perhaps with an intimation of the drone strike that killed Soleimani, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pronounced, “The game has changed.” In a Detroit News op-ed, Giselle Donnelly writes that the “game” in the Middle East remains the same: It is still a multisided struggle for power in the wake of the collapse of the postcolonial and “nationalist” governments established after World War II. Learn more here.
Following the release of The Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers, Fred Kagan took to the AEIdeas blog to argue that contrary to the Post’s reporting, American leaders did not systematically lie to the American people about the situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not Vietnam. George Bush did not lie America into this war. And he, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and their generals and diplomats did not conceal the challenges and failures the US was facing. Learn more here.
by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
January 4, 2020
Iraq's parliament on Sunday passed a nonbinding resolution to expel the 5,000 or so US troops in the country following the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a US airstrike at Baghdad airport. "The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason," the resolution reads. The vote comes amid intense pressure from pro-Iran militias, which have called for retaliation. Kurdish and most of the Sunni members of parliament did not attend the parliamentary session in protest of the resolution.
Meanwhile two rockets hit near the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday, the AFP reports, hours after the Iraqi government summoned US Ambassador Matthew Tueller. NATO has called for an urgent meeting of the alliance's ambassadors today to address the fallout from the US strike after suspending its training mission in Iraq on Saturday over increased security risks.
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
President Trump has gambled that an extraordinary escalation will allow his administration to reassert control over an intensifying US-Iran confrontation. It may actually work. But weathering the diplomatic and military fallout will require far greater skill and competence than Trump’s team has displayed so far.
Donald Trump cuts off Iran’s terror arm in Iraq, while Israel braces for Iranian retaliation
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