Day 28 1398 - January 18 2020
Is Iran An Enemy Of The United States? No; But Efforts Are Underway To Make It One!

It is so noteworthy that any reference to the assassinated Iranian commander of the IRGC, Soleimani, by television commentators, and especially by the members of our Congress and other government officials, begins with the preamble that he was a bad, bad actor who had the blood of so many Americans on his hands. Why? Simple: Without emphasizing that point they might not appear "patriotic" enough! -Kambiz Zarrabi 1/18/20

Beating the War Drums In Israel

The assassination of General Qassem Soleimani came as a strategic surprise. President Trump's gamble surprised even the U.S. intelligence community. Iran promised "fierce revenge" and Trump responded with threats of "disproportionate" retaliation against vital Iranian targets. Heightened escalation scenarios and drums of war flooded the American discourse. In Israel, perhaps surprisingly, the reaction was muted. The political leadership and the high military echelons preferred to keep their public statements low profile. But this is probably a temporary... -Shemuel Meir, Responsible Statecraft 1/18/20

Iran's supreme leader calls Trump 'clown' in rare Friday sermon

Iran's supreme leader has described Donald Trump as a "clown" who only pretends to support the Iranian people but will push a poisonous dagger into their backs, as he struck a defiant tone in his first Friday sermon in Tehran in eight years. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the mass funerals for Iran's top general, who was killed in a US strike earlier this month, show that the Iranian people support the Islamic Republic despite its recent trials. The "cowardly" killing of Qassem Suleimani had taken out the most effective commander in the battle against the Islamic State group, he said. -Guardian 1/17/20

Europe's New Gamble: Dispute Resolution and the Iran Nuclear Deal

France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the E3) initiated a new and uncertain phase in the Iran nuclear deal this week by triggering its Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM). They did so in response to Iran's expansion of its nuclear programme, following the reimposition of crippling US sanctions on the country. This is an assertive move by the E3, but it is also a gamble that could save or sink the agreement. The E3 will have to manage the process very carefully if they intend not to "add a nuclear proliferation crisis to the current escalation threatening the whole region", as they stated in their announcement on the decision. -Ellie Geranmayeh, Responsible Statecraft 1/16/20

Europe needs to build on the Iran nuclear deal, not jettison it

The three European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal - France, Germany and the UK (known as the E3) - announced yesterday that they were triggering the agreement's dispute resolution mechanism. In a joint statement, the E3 insisted that the move was undertaken "in good faith" and was aimed at salvaging the accord in response to Iranian breaches, not expediting its collapse. But resorting to the mechanism could set in motion the deal's demise, unless Europe engages both Tehran and Washington. -Ali Vaez, Guardian 1/16/20

Rouhani: Iran enriching more uranium than before 2015 deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that his country is enriching more uranium than Tehran did before it agreed to a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015. "We are enriching more uranium before the deal was reached ... Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress," Rouhani said on Thursday in a televised speech. -Aljazeera 1/16/20

Europe Should Prevent the Iran Nuclear Deal from Going the Way of the Oslo Accords

A major regional war in the Middle East has been averted, for now. President Donald Trump decided not to respond militarily to Iran launching missiles at the U.S. bases in Iraq, which itself was in response to the U.S.-executed assassination of the General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Al-Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Instead, Trump announced new sanctions against Iran. There is no reason, however, to believe that this represents anything more than a pause in the rush to war rather than a beginning of a real de-escalation. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 1/14/20

The Dawn of War and America's Strategic Fog

One can almost hear the guffaws and back-slapping laughter out of China and Russia rattling around the ether of the international system, as they watch the United States again blunder mindlessly around in the blind alleys of the Middle East, fruitlessly wasting time, money, and political capital to no useful end. Indeed, it must make for good theater in the dictatorial halls of power in Beijing and Moscow. The January 2020 tit-for-tat assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani emphasizes yet again America's confounding inability clearly to think through the role of military force as an instrument of strategy. -James Russell, Responsible Statecraft 1/14/20

Trump came far too close to war. He must de-escalate further: scrap new sanctions and row back to the Iran deal

Last week's near catastrophe between the United States and Iran was a double-edged sword. On the positive side, both countries concluded that continuing down the path of military escalation was a dead-end journey. But the tension in the U.S.-Iran relationship--defined by 40 years of covert operations, diplomatic isolation, and pervasive mistrust--is still very much in play. -Daniel R. DePetris, Newsweek 1/14/20

Hours of forewarning saved U.S., Iraqi lives from Iran's missile attack

Nearly eight hours before Iran's Jan. 8 missile attack on U.S. forces at bases in Iraq, American and Iraqi soldiers at Ain al-Asad air base scrambled to move personnel and weaponry to fortified bunkers, two Iraqi officers stationed at the base told Reuters...When the missiles finally landed at about 1:30 a.m., they struck "empty bunkers that had been evacuated hours before," the intelligence source said. No one was injured or killed. -Reuters 1/14/20

Saudi Arabia And Trump's Other Middle East Pals Don't Want More Escalation With Iran

After years of pushing for the U.S. to make tougher moves against Iran, some of America's closest partners in the Middle East now desperately want President Donald Trump to take a more moderate tack. If those countries shift away from confrontation with Iran, it would have huge implications for the stability of the region and its hundreds of millions of people. -Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Huffington Post 1/14/20

U.S. and Iran Are Not Out of the Woods

First, the good news. On Wednesday morning, President Trump told the nation that "the United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it." The threat that a catastrophic full-scale military confrontation with Iran was minutes away has apparently receded, at least for the time being. Now, the bad news. The two nations are still on a collision path. -Sonya Reines-Djivanides & Perry Cammack, Responsible Statecraft 1/13/20

Qatari emir in Iran: 'De-escalation' the only way forward

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the only solution to rising tensions in the Middle East between Iran and the United States was de-escalation and dialogue. Sheikh Tamim's visit on Sunday to Iran to meet President Hassan Rouhani, its supreme leader, and other senior leaders came amid heightened tensions in the Gulf following the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad and Iran's retaliatory missile strikes on US targets in Iraq. -Aljazeera 1/13/20

Will Trump Learn Enough from the Iran Crisis?

President Donald Trump this week dodged the proverbial bullet when Iran limited its military response to the U.S. assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force. Trump should thank Iran for helping him sustain what has seemed to be one of his most important self-imposed rules of his presidency: don't get the United States involved in yet another major Middle East war. -Robert E. Hunter, Responsible Statecraft 1/13/20

Congress's Work to Prevent War With Iran has Only Just Begun

No sooner than the dust had settled on Iran's limited military retaliation for the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani did pundits claim it was a "win" for Trump. While we're all breathing a sigh of relief that a direct military confrontation between the United States and Iran appears to be on hold for now, there's a danger that Trump and his cabinet have taken the wrong lesson from last week's avoidable events - namely, that Trump's military action has deterred Iran and only more pressure will change the regime's calculus. -Kate Kizer, Responsible Statecraft 1/12/20

How Cities Can Elevate Diplomacy and Alleviate Animosity Between the U.S. and Iran

The United States relies too heavily on hard power. This is not surprising when the nation underappreciates noncoercive foreign affairs and diplomacy. So, as I read commentary on President Trump's decision to assassinate Qassem Soleimani, I feel the urge to take a step back and see if this signals a bigger problem - the same problem that should have been more pronounced when he pulled the United States out of JCPOA (the nuclear agreement with Iran), or the Paris Climate Agreement, or called certain countries sh**holes. -Sohaela Amiri, Responsible Statecraft 1/11/20

US unsuccessfully targeted another Iranian military official on same day as Soleimani

On the same night the US military killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, they unsuccessfully targeted another senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to a US official with knowledge of the events and another source familiar. The sources would not give any details about the mission or how the US had attempted to carry it out. The US official said to the best of their knowledge there is no broader operation to decapitate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds force leadership at this time. -CNN 1/11/20

John Kerry: Diplomacy Was Working Until Trump Abandoned It

President Trump says that on his watch, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. But if he had wanted to keep that promise, he should have left the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in place. Instead, he pulled the United States out of the deal and pursued a reckless foreign policy that has put us on a path to armed conflict with Iran...Presidents make lonely, difficult decisions about the use of force to protect our interests -- usually with the solace of knowing at least that diplomacy had failed. The tragedy of our current plight is that diplomacy was succeeding before it was abandoned. -John Kerry, New York Times 1/10/20

'Think Tank' That Promotes War and Regime Change in Iran Paid Salary of Departing Trump NSC Staffer

Bloomberg reported last week that Richard Goldberg - one of the National Security Council's (NSC) most outspoken Iran hawks, and a close ally of former National Security Advisor John Bolton - was departing the council "for personal reasons." However, the Bloomberg story didn't deliver its real bombshell until the last sentence: "Goldberg will return to [the Foundation for Defense of Democracies], which continued to pay his salary during his time on the National Security Council." -Eli Clifton, Responsible Statecraft 1/10/20

Trump's Foreign Policy By Impulse Ignores the Consequences: Backfire

If you ever wanted the opposite of what you asked for, the assassination of Soleimani couldn't provide a better opportunity to Donald Trump. First, the basics: the assassination of political leaders is exceeding rare in history. It happens, but usually as a result of internal politics, like Kennedy and King. As statecraft - it's pretty rare. Think World War I and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. That's where the war really took off; a duke killed in his carriage in Sarajevo. -Gordon Adams, Responsible Statecraft 1/10/20

Brazil helped the US and Iran towards peace. Dialogue is the only answer

The assassination of Qassem Suleimani by drone bombs, at the express request of the president of the United States, has thrown the Middle East - and the world - into the most serious global security crisis since the end of the cold war. By unilaterally ordering the execution of a senior Iranian military on Iraqi soil, Donald Trump violated international law and took a reckless and dangerous step in escalating conflict, with potential impact all over the planet. -Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Celso Amorim, Guardian 1/10/20

No War With Iran: Day of Action

We will not be forced into another war. On Thursday, January 9, at 5 p.m. local time, the anti-war majority in this country will get visible to oppose Trump's war and say #NoWarWithIran. Trump's reckless action has needlessly endangered countless lives of U.S. troops, Iraqis, Iranians, and countless other civilians. 1/9/20

A Pause in the Rush to War

We have dodged a war - for now. Iran's restrained missile attack on two Iraqi bases and Donald Trump's stand down from further military attacks combine to create a pause in the slide towards a catastrophic war. Buried deep in the braggadocio and bombast of Trump's speech on Wednesday was an important message to the Iranians: We are not planning further military action. -Joe Cirincione, Responsible Statecraft 1/9/20

There Are No Winners in a War With Iran

As we find ourselves on the brink of another unnecessary war in the Middle East, I am reminded of the night the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. At the time I was taking an international studies course titled, "Islam and the West." Beyond teaching about the historical context that informed our contemporary politics, our professor's objective was to give us the needed tools in order to "bridge the gap" between these erroneously divided worlds.Then a wide-eyed undergraduate student, my fellow classmates and I embodied the characteristic idealism of youth, the belief that with our convictions and our humanity we could change the course of events. -Assal Rad, Responsible Statecraft 1/9/20

Trump Drives Past an Off-Ramp

President Trump, in his speech this morning, missed a de-escalation opportunity that Iran had given him. A confrontation that benefits neither the United States nor Iran (not to mention other affected parties, such as Iraq) is momentarily pausing, but the confrontation and its accompanying dangers will continue. The Iranian regime sent a carefully calibrated message with its missile strikes on two military bases in Iraq yesterday and with its subsequent messaging. The strikes were a prompt, highly visible, and openly proclaimed retaliation for the killing by a U.S. drone of senior Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 1/9/20

Soleimani's Assassination Backfires Big Time

The White House insists that the overriding goal behind the January 2, 2020 assassination of the Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani was to deter Iran. But its evocation of a term that remains one of the most ambiguous and abused concepts in the language of international affairs cannot alter basic facts. Soleimani's death is part of a regime change strategy that began with the White House's imposition of sanctions that have strangled Iran's economy. -Daniel Brumberg, Arab Center Washington DC 1/9/20

Iran Launches Missile Strikes At U.S. Troops In Iraq, Casualties Unclear

Iran has carried out a ballistic-missile attack against U.S. forces stationed in Iraq in retaliation for the killing last week of a prominent Iranian military commander. Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq early on January 8. The U.S. military said at least two Iraqi facilities hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel were targeted in the overnight attack. It is unclear if there have been any casualties. 1/8/20

Trump Has No Strategy in the Middle East, Only Vengeance

President Trump has no strategy for Iran. After ordering the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, he was not prepared for the Iranian response on two U.S. air bases in Iraq this evening. His national-security process is dysfunctional. His legal justification is bunk. In claiming to have preempted an imminent attack, he and his cabinet may be lying. All are important criticisms that politicians and analysts have repeated since the assassination. They are also utterly inadequate. -Stephen Wertheim, Responsible Statecraft 1/8/20

Some administration officials believe Iran intentionally missed areas with Americans

There is a growing belief among some Trump administration officials that Iran's missiles intentionally missed areas populated by Americans when they targeted two Iraqi bases housing US troops early Wednesday local time, multiple administration officials said...The administration officials floated the notion that Iran could have directed their missiles to hit areas that are populated by Americans, but intentionally did not. -CNN 1/8/20

Will This Billionaire-Funded Think Tank Get Its War With Iran?

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies' militaristic influence on US policy toward Iran is working. Suleimani's assassination is evidence of that. On social media, Trump's decision to assassinate Suleimani and al-Muhandis was greeted with praise from the FDD, which gloated, via Twitter, that Iran "thought he [Trump] was a Twitter tiger; he's proven otherwise." - 1/8/20

Suleimani Is Dead, but Diplomacy Shouldn't Be

In the aftermath of the U.S. killing of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani last week, the past, as so often, seemed to offer a tempting parallel of the present, with the hashtags #WWIII and #FranzFerdinand flourishing on Twitter. It's unsurprising that such memories haunt the collective consciousness at times like this. Western narratives of conflict turn around the world wars. Hawks see enemies as nascent Hitlers, who must be crushed before they are given space to expand. Doves see a world ready to repeat the catastrophic errors of 1914, when Europe destroyed itself. -Philip Caruso, Foreign Policy 1/8/20

After Soleimani's Assassination, There Will Be No Regime Change in Tehran

Anyone who believes that President Trump's order to illegally assassinate Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and several more Iraqis, was an act of strength has not been properly paying attention. This is the latest in a series of stupid policy errors by this administration which have not only strengthened the hand of America's enemies but have also now ensured that the rest of the world, with the exceptions of Israel and Saudi Arabia, now at best views the U.S. with mistrust, or at the very worst hate America more than any other country on earth. -Massoud Khodabandeh, Responsible Statecraft 1/8/20

Iran: dozens dead in crush at Suleimani burial procession

Dozens of people have been killed in a crush in the south-eastern Iranian city of Kerman, where hundreds of thousands of mourners have gathered for the burial of the military commander Qassem Suleimani. Emergency officials told state TV that 40 people had been killed and 213 injured. Mourners had filled the streets of Suleimani's home town on Tuesday morning in numbers that appeared to match the huge turnouts in Baghdad, Tehran, Qom, Mashhad and Ahvaz in recent days to say farewell to the commander of the Revolutionary Guards external operations force, who was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq on Friday. -Guardian 1/7/20

Making America Rogue Again

The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, and the rationales offered for this killing, exhibit extreme myopia no matter where one looks in space and time... A great nation, as the United States has been throughout its history, sets and observes high standards of international behavior. It does so confident that its strength and character will enable it to protect and advance its interests effectively without stooping to lower standards and doing the sorts of things that rogue states and terrorists do. By acting like a rogue, Trump has diminished America's greatness. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 1/7/20

'Imminent Threat'? Trump Killed Soleimani Because Iran is Weak

Qassem Soleimani, affectionately called Haj Qassem in Iran, is dead. The touted Middle Eastern superstar has been made no more. And, so far, beyond the initial shock, we are only left with numerous commentaries about the potential impact of his assassination. Soleimani will be smiling in his soon grave-to-be in his hometown of Kerman. The general who had reportedly already willed his resting place to be in the martyrs' cemetery with his name mentioned without his military titles, only as soldier, has been made even more of a superstar in death than life. -Farideh Farhi, Responsible Statecraft 1/7/20

Iran's Foreign Minister: U.S. Strike On Soleimani An Act Of Terrorism And War

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tells NPR that the U.S. "will pay" for a drone strike that killed the commander of the country's elite Quds Force, which he described as an act of "both terrorism and war." Speaking with All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly in Tehran, Zarif said last week's assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was "a cowardly armed attack" that "amounts to war." -NPR 1/7/20

Trump Faces Swift Backlash for Killing Soleimani as Iraqi Parliament Votes to Expel U.S. Troops

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has made some shocking revelations that put the assassination of Soleimani in a completely different light. He told the Iraqi parliament on Sunday that he "was supposed to meet Soleimani on the morning of the day he was killed, he came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi to Iran." If this account is true, Trump 0- perhaps deliberately - acted to scuttle an effort to reduce tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. -Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 1/6/20

Iran supreme leader weeps for general killed by US airstrike

Iran's supreme leader wept Monday over the casket of a top general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, his prayers joining the wails of mourners who flooded the streets of Tehran demanding retaliation against America for a slaying that's drastically raised tensions across the Middle East. The funeral for Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani drew a crowd said by police to be in the millions in the Iranian capital, filling thoroughfares and side streets as far as the eye could see. -AP 1/6/20

The Day After War Begins in Iran

The outpouring of grief for Qassim Suleimani is the country's first act of retaliation. The last time I wrote seriously about a war with Iran was in 2012. It had been an especially fraught year, with Iran's Revolutionary Guards running naval exercises in the Persian Gulf, Israel and the United States conducting joint drills, and the safety of oil shipping lanes looking entirely unassured. Oil prices rattled skittishly, everyone suddenly monitored ships, and headlines speculated that Israel might attack Iran's nuclear sites. -Azadeh Moaveni, NY Times 1/6/20

Mike Pompeo Fed the Rats in the President*'s Brain to Get What He Wanted

The Washington Post dives deeply into what is laughingly called the administration*'s "process" leading up to the decision to kill Qasem Soleimani with fire last week. In short, all the "imminent threat" palaver was pure moonshine. According to the Post, this particular catastrophe was brewed up for a while amid the stalactites in the mind of Mike Pompeo, a Secretary of State who makes Henry Kissinger look like Gandhi. -Charles P Pierce, Esquire 1/6/20

Mike Pompeo Fed the Rats in the President*'s Brain to Get What He Wanted

The Washington Post dives deeply into what is laughingly called the administration*'s "process" leading up to the decision to kill Qasem Soleimani with fire last week. In short, all the "imminent threat" palaver was pure moonshine. According to the Post, this particular catastrophe was brewed up for a while amid the stalactites in the mind of Mike Pompeo, a Secretary of State who makes Henry Kissinger look like Gandhi. -Charles P Pierce, Esquire 1/6/20

The Breathtaking Unraveling of the Middle East After Qassem Suleimani's Death

The flag-draped coffin of General Qassem Suleimani was thronged by wailing mobs in Tehran on Monday, as the fallout from his death, in a U.S. air strike, accelerated with breathtaking speed. Iran has not seen such an outpouring of emotion on the streets since the death of the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989...Instead of being a dead bad guy, Suleimani appears almost as potent in his "martyrdom" as he was in life. -Robin Wright, New Yorker 1/6/20

Huge crowds flood Tehran streets for Soleimani's funeral, calling for revenge and retaliation

Tehran's streets were packed with black-clad mourners Monday as a sea of people turned out to pay their respects to Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad last week. The mourners carried photographs of Soleimani, a revered and powerful figure who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps elite Quds Force and led Iran's overseas operations. -CNN 1/6/20

More than 70 Actions Took Place on Sat. Jan. 4 To Demand - No War With Iran!

More than 70 actions took place on Saturday, January 4 across the country to to demand no war with Iran and that U.S. troops leave the Middle East. The Trump administration and Pentagon have moved to start a war with Iran by assassinating Qassem Soleimani, the top military leader of that country. -Answer Coalition 1/5/20

Millions of Iranians mourn Lt. Gen. Soleimani, PMU deputy head in Mashhad

Millions of Iranian mourners have taken part in a funeral procession for the late commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Quds Force Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his companions, including the deputy head of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. In all, 10 people -- five Iraqis and five Iranians -- were assassinated in the US strike on their motorcade just outside Baghdad airport early Friday. -Press TV 1/5/20

US Foreign Policy by Assassination

The United States, through its assassination of top-ranking Iranian General Qasim Soleimani, has once again opened Pandora's box in its conduct of foreign policy. How long does Washington think it can enjoy unique monopoly over exercise of these forms of international violence before they are turned against us?...The assassination of General Soleimani also revealed Washington's continuing assumption of a right to violate the sovereignty of any country in the world if it deems it in its interest to do so. -Graham E. Fuller 1/5/20

Iran's response to US will be military -- Khamenei's adviser

The military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader said Sunday that Tehran's response to the killing by the United States of its most most influential general will "for sure be military." In an exclusive interview with CNN in Tehran, the adviser -- Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan -- made the most specific and direct threat yet by a senior Iranian official following the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad. -CNN 1/5/20

Blowback from Trump's Hit on Soleimani Will be Swift and Severe

Ordering the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is one of those decisions that makes a man like Donald J. Trump elated - but only for a short time. The come-down from that high will be long and painful. As the smoke from that burning Toyota and flesh at the Bagdad International Airport blows back in the direction of Washington, it will start to dawn on Trump, as it did on Bush, how he has been duped into something that will not serve him well at all. -Youseph Yazdi, Responsible Statecraft 1/5/20

The Meaning of Qassem Suleimani's Death in the Middle East

On Thursday night, in the United States, soon after the news broke, I spoke by phone with Vali Nasr, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a senior adviser to the State Department during the Obama Administration. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed Suleimani's role within Iran's regime, the importance of his actions throughout the Middle East, and how Iran is likely to respond. -Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker 1/5/20

Impeachment: Warren accuses Trump of 'wag the dog' strike on Suleimani

Elizabeth Warren has suggested Donald Trump ordered the drone assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani to distract the American public from his own impeachment, taking the country "to the edge of war" for his own political purposes. "We know Donald Trump is very upset about this upcoming impeachment trial," the Massachusetts senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination told NBC's Meet the Press. "But look what he's doing now. He is taking us to the edge of war." -Guardian 1/5/20

Colin Kaepernick attacks US 'imperialism' in wake of Suleimani strike

Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who has used his platform to highlight racial injustice within the United States, has turned his attention to the country's foreign policy, attacking American "imperialism" in a series of tweets on Saturday. The former San Francisco 49ers star's comments came after the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani by a US drone, although Kaepernick did not mention the incident directly. -Tom Lutz, Guardian 1/5/20

On Qassem Soleimani's Assassination: Is It Foolish To Credit The Foolish Clown With Foolishness?

Jesus saw a dead man on a roadside. Startled, he pondered, saying: "O man, whom had you slain, for whose death. You paid the price with your blood; And where shall lie the avenger of your demise?" I am translating these haunting lines penned by a Persian poet over a thousand years ago. Tit for tat, and tat for tit; then tit for tat again, and tat for tit; over and over and over: will the riddle ever end?! -Kambiz Zarrabi 1/4/20

Protests planned across US to condemn Trump administration actions in Iraq, Iran

More than 40 demonstrations were planned across the U.S. Saturday to protest the Trump administration's killing of a top Iranian general and decision to send about 3,000 more soldiers to the Middle East. The protests are being spearheaded by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), a U.S.-based anti-war coalition, in conjunction with more than a dozen organizations. Demonstrations were expected to protest outside the White House, in New York City's Times Square and more. -USA Today 1/4/20

Fears grow of bloody reprisal after Qassem Suleimani assassination

Huge crowds joined funeral processions for Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad and Tehran on Saturday as calls to avenge the Iranian general's death mounted and the US case for ordering his assassination was increasingly called into question. As the coffins of Suleimani and his close associate, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were carried through the Iraqi capital, the ramifications of the killings were reverberating across a nervous region, where many believe the aftermath could spark a new era of bloodletting and instability. -Guardian 1/4/20

Don't Let Trump Go to War With Iran

Fifteen years after the U.S. entered Iraq, the president is inching us closer to another unnecessary fight. The decision of the United States to wage war against Iraq in 2003 was one of the worst mistakes our country has ever made. Was Saddam Hussein a brutal dictator? Yes, but he didn't have weapons of mass destruction, and toppling his regime had profound consequences-bringing the deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, promoting deep instability in the region, inflicting lasting damage on American credibility, and imposing enormous costs on American taxpayers. -U.S. Senator Tim Kaine 1/4/20

Suleimani's Death Changes Nothing for Iran

The assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran by the United States was an unprecedented escalation in the 40-year standoff between the two countries. General Suleimani was the powerful head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' special operations forces, the Quds Force, and we can expect retaliation across the region. But the killing will not in itself weaken the Revolutionary Guards or Iran's role in the region. -Narges Bajoghli, New York Times 1/4/20

Trump's Iran Policy Is Brain-Dead

Well, that didn't take long. 2020 is less than a week old, and U.S. President Donald Trump has managed to stumble into another pointless and dangerous crisis with Iran. It is the near-inevitable result of his myopic approach to the entire Middle East (and especially Iran) and another demonstration of Washington's inability to formulate a coherent and effective policy toward any important global issue. When did this country get so bad at strategy? -Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy 1/4/20

The U.S. Can Only Lose in War With Iran

Dramatic events in Baghdad and the assassination of Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani have left the United States and Iran veering toward open hostilities. Some in Washington, especially stalwart neoconservatives, have openly longed for this day, which many hoped would mark the beginning of the end of the regime in Tehran. That is unlikely. U.S. war with Iran raises the specter of yet another American military defeat in the region, because Iran too has long prepared for this moment. -Mark Kukis, Responsible Statecraft 1/4/20

Trump and his Team are Lying Their Way to War With Iran

President Trump ordering the killing of Qassem Soleimani is troubling on several fronts. The assassination has been treated as an act of war in Iran, uniting disparate political factions after a brutal crackdown on protesters in November. Now, U.S. forces are on a state of high alert across the region, with many anticipating potential Iranian counter reprisals that risk further deepening the escalation spiral from which there could be no escape. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 1/4/20

Crisis in Iran will drive wedge between Europe and Washington

The assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani is a turning point for relations between the United States and Iran. It also pulls U.S. allies in Europe deeper into uncharted waters, and threatens to leave European forces on the ground caught in the crossfire of escalation between Tehran and Washington...For European capitals, this means their worst predictions - they warned the Trump administration that withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal would trigger a chain of escalation with Iran - are becoming reality. -Ellie Geranmayeh, Politico 1/4/20

The Killing of Qassem Suleimani Is Tantamount to an Act of War

Was the U.S. attack an act of war? Douglas Silliman, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq until last winter and is now the president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told me that the death of Suleimani was the equivalent of Iran killing the commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East and South Asia. "If Iran had killed the commander of U.S. Central Command, what would we consider it to be?" he said. John Limbert, one of fifty-two Americans who were taken hostage in Iran in 1979, told me that he was happy Suleimani was gone, but quickly added, "This is not going to end well." -Robin Wright, New Yorker 1/4/20

US kills Iran general Qassem Suleimani in strike ordered by Trump

Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Iran's most powerful general in the early hours of Friday, in a dramatic escalation of an already bloody struggle between Washington and Tehran for influence across the region. Suleimani, who ran Iranian military operations in Iraq and Syria, was hit by the drone strike while local allies from the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) drove him from Baghdad airport. The de facto leader of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a close Suleimani associate, was also killed in the attack. -Guardian 1/3/20

Trump Lit a Fire by Exiting the Iran Deal & Poured Gasoline on it by Assassinating Soleimani

Soleimani was a consummate realist. He understood power, and his cunning understanding of the battlefield often meant that Iran punched above its weight in regional affairs. He was feared and hated by his enemies. There was absolutely no one like him in the Arab world: no Saudi, no Syrian, no Egyptian. Because of his personal daring style, he often appeared on intelligence radar screens. Other U.S. presidents were aware of the opportunities, but it was President Trump who pulled the trigger. What does that mean? -Gary Sick, Responsible Statecraft 1/3/20

The Trump Administration Just Killed Iran's Most Famous Military Commander. We're Not Ready for What's Next.

UNTIL HIS DEATH last night in an airstrike near Baghdad International Airport, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was the United States's most formidable adversary in the Middle East. As commander of the Quds Force, the external operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Suleimani fought a decadelong proxy war against the U.S. and its allies across Iraq and the region. It was a conflict in which the Iranian side has largely come out on top, as their own leaked internal documents have shown. -Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept 1/3/20

Iran vows to avenge U.S. killing of top commander Soleimani

Iran threatened to retaliate after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Friday killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's elite Quds Force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East. Soleimani, a 62-year-old general, was regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The overnight attack, authorized by President Donald Trump, marked a dramatic escalation in a "shadow war" in the Middle East between Iran and the United States and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia. -Reuters 1/3/20

Iran's Leader names new Quds commander following Gen. Soleimani's assassination

"Following the martyrdom of the glorious general Qasem Soleimani, I name Brigadier General Esmail Qaani as the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps," the Leader said in a statement posted on his official website. Esmail Qaani was serving as the Quds force's deputy commander prior to the new appointment on Friday. -Press TV 1/3/20

AP Explains: Rising Iran, US tension after general's killing

The U.S. airstrike that killed a prominent Iranian general in Baghdad raises tensions even higher between Tehran and Washington, after months of trading attacks and threats across the wider Middle East. How Iran will respond remains in question as well, though its supreme leader warned that a "harsh retaliation is waiting" for those who killed Revolutionary Guard Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani early Friday morning. -AP 1/3/20

Iran Says 'Not Afraid Of War' After Trump 'Threat'

Iranian military leaders have warned Washington against threatening military action after U.S. President Donald Trump said Tehran would be held responsible for anti-U.S. protests in Iraq. "We are not leading the country to war, but we are not afraid of any war and we tell America to speak correctly with the Iranian nation," Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said on January 2. -RFE/RL 1/2/20

Can Escalation be Prevented in Iraq?

The December 29 raid killed at least two dozen people-members of KH and the Iraqi security forces-and has brought the U.S. to the brink of a new war in Iraq or even of an outright confrontation with Iran, seen in Washington as being KH's main backers. The consequences of any such escalation, while unforeseeable in detail, would certainly be disastrous for Americans, Iraqis, and numerous others. Can escalation be prevented? -Helena Cobban, Responsible Statecraft 1/2/20

Wearing Out a Welcome in Iraq

The scene in the Green Zone in Baghdad easily evokes memories of Tehran forty years ago. A U.S. embassy in the Persian Gulf region is under siege by an angry mob. The protestors, predominantly young, break through the outer walls of the compound as U.S. diplomats take refuge in a safe room. President Trump implicitly extends the parallel by reacting in the narrowly anti-Iran terms that have defined his policies in this part of the world. Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq," Trump tweeted from Mar-a-Lago. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 1/1/20

Pro-Iran militants withdraw from US embassy in Baghdad

Iranian-backed militants have withdrawn from the US embassy in Baghdad following an order from their militia organisation, ending a day-long siege that badly damaged US-Iraqi relations and demonstrated the strength of Iranian influence in the Iraqi capital. The US defence secretary, Mark Esper, announced that 750 airborne troops would be deployed to the region immediately, with more to follow in the next few days. -Guardian 1/1/20

Iran, China & Russia combined naval exercise: A security trilateral to counter US presence?

A first-of-its-kind combined naval exercise by Iran, China and Russia has wrapped up in the Gulf of Oman. The US has been watching closely, as it could be the beginning of a security coalition to counter American influence. The Iranian Navy had announced that the December 27-30 exercise, codenamed Marine Security Belt, was aimed at enhancing maritime security in the region, which has witnessed a series of attacks on ships transiting the vital shipping lane -- the same attacks for which the US has been blaming Iran. -Shishir Upadhyaya, RT 12/31/19

Protesters attack US embassy in Baghdad after airstrikes

Protesters attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, scaling the walls and forcing the gates of the compound, as hundreds demonstrated against American airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq. Two sources at the demonstration witnessed the attempt to break into the premises -- the US' biggest embassy in the world -- adding that security personnel fired tear gas to repel the attack. Video footage shows demonstrators smashing windows, burning items outside and throwing rocks over the walls. -CNN 12/31/19

16 stunning modern architectural wonders in the Middle East you've probably never heard of

Some of the most visited include Petra, the famous archaeological site in Jordan and former capital of the Nabatean kingdom, and Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire in ancient Persia. However the region is fast becoming home to some of the most stunning modern buildings in the world too. -Sahar Esfandiari, Insider 12/30/19

Iranian Chess Player Who Refused To Play For His Country Wins Silver Medal At World Championship

Alireza Firouzja, a top-rated chess player from Iran and the world's No. 2 ranked junior player, has won the silver medal at the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow after competing under the flag of the International Chess Federation (FIDE). Firouzja, 16, had decided not to play for his country in an apparent reaction to the Islamic republic's ban on competing against Israeli players. -RFE/RL 12/30/19

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