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Iraq Unites Against United States After Trump-ordered Strikes On Baghdad

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Iraq Unites Against United States After Trump-ordered Strikes On Baghdad

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The situation in the Middle East is on the brink, following an escalation, which saw a United States strike kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the head of elite Qods Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Units.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the US policy to begin pre-emptive strikes against Iranian adversaries or their proxies.

“To Iran and its proxy militias: We will not accept the continued attacks against our personnel and forces in the region. Attacks against us will be met with responses in the time, manner and place of our choosing. We urge the Iranian regime to end malign activities.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared a video, allegedly showing Iraqis celebrating the death of Soleimani.

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the US Department of Defense said in a statement.

“General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”

Meanwhile, in the US, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that US President Donald Trump had carried out the strike without Congressional approval.

“American leaders’ highest priority is to protect American lives and interests. But we cannot put the lives of American servicemembers, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Tonight’s air strike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America – and the world – cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return,” she added. “The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress.”

Democraft Adam Schiff tweeted, saying that the “American people don’t want a war with Iran.”

Lebanese pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar reported the death of Qassem Soleimani, with a simple message “It is War.”

Qassem Soleimani was infamous at home and abroad as the leader of the foreign arm of Iran’s elite forces Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and for his key role in fighting against terrorism in Syria and Iraq.

He survived several assassination attempts against him by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies over the past 20 years.

Immediately following the strike, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the US move an “act of international terrorism” and that Washington’s “rogue adventurism” would not go unpunished.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for three days of mourning, saying Major General Soleimani’s killing will double the motivation of the resistance against the US and Israel. According to Iranian state television, Khamenei said harsh revenge awaits “criminals” who killed Soleimani.

The Supreme National Security Council of Iran will hold an emergency meeting in coming hours to discuss the US’ criminal assassination of IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani.

The SNSC spokesman Keyvan Khosravi said the meeting would be held later in the day.

“In a few hours, an extraordinary meeting of the Supreme National Security Council will be held to review the murderous attack on the vehicle of General Soleimani in Baghdad that lead to his martyrdom,” Keyvan Khosravi said.

Mohsen Rezaei, the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, also warned the US of “revenge”.

“He [Soleimani] joined his martyred brothers, but we will take vigorous revenge on America,” Rezaei said.

In its official response, the Iraqi government condemned the killings, and thanked both individuals for their fight against terrorism.

Various groups in Iraq expressed their condemnation of US actions and called for a harsh response.

Iraq’s prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said the killing of Soleimani was targeting Iraq’s opposition and Jihad, adding that it will not weaken its resolve.

In a statement, Al-Sadr called on his militias (Army of Imam Mahdi) and “other national and disciplined” armed groups to be prepared to protect Iraq.

“As the patron of the patriotic Iraqi resistance I give the order for all mujahideen, especially the Mehdi Army, Promised Day Brigade, and all patriotic and disciplined groups to be ready to protect Iraq,” he said in a statement.

Al-Sadr is quite nationalist, opposing of further spreading the influence of the US and Iran in Iraq, but Washington’s move appears to have forced his hand.

In May 2018, al-Sadr’s Sairoon electoral list won 54 seats in the first Iraqi parliamentary election since the Islamic State was declared defeated in Iraq.

There are reports of Israel holding emergency defense meetings, since the US’ move more than likely warrants a response by Iran and the various groups its backs in the region. The assassination of General Qassem Soleimani is an undoubted act of military aggression.

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