The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs sanctions the American targeting of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasim Soleimani. Soleimani has long been a threat to the core national security interests of the United States, and both its western and Mideastern allies. He was not only the head of the operational wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), but effectively the Iranian Army’s top leader as well as an advisor to Iran’s leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Going back to the killing of hundreds of American troops in the War in Iraq, as well as terrorist acts and damaging military / paramilitary/ intelligence operations of Iran around the
world for decades, Soleimani was a one-man threat to the shared interests and populations of numerous countries beginning with the United States.
U.S. forces targeted the 62-year-old Iranian Head of elite Quds Force, Soleimani, with a lethal airstrike near the Baghdad International Airport early on Friday, January 3, 2020. According to the Pentagon, the drone strike followed an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was approved by Soleimani.
The Quds Force leader has been among America’s most lethal foreign threats, having recently contributed to marked instability across the Middle
East. Under his leadership, Iran has aided, augmented, and coordinated with a range of militant groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Shia militia
groups in Iraq, and boosted their presence in Syria. He has been working significantly with Shia militias and other militant groups in the region for over two decades, leading clandestine operations of the Quds Force since 1998.
U.S. and Iran have exchanged harsh threats since the incident. Initially, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened to take revenge against the U.S. for Soleimani’s targeting. Hours after the strike, President Hassan Rouhani tweeted, “The flag of General Soleimani in defense of the country’s territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region will be raised, and the path of resistance to U.S. excesses will continue.”
Responding to these harsh threats, President Donald Trump has replied that if Iran follows through its threats, the U.S. will target 52 Iranian sites, including cultural sites. The Iraqi government denounced the U.S. attack and labeled it a violation of its sovereignty.
The targeting of Soleimani foreshadows heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran, and engenders fear of retaliation from Iranian militant groups and proxy groups. Ultimately, depending on how cascading rounds of potential retaliation/escalation play out, the targeting of Soleimani may prove unwise but certifiably not unjustified.