On Thursday, Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force and one of the most feared individuals in the Middle East, was killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport at the direction of President Trump.
According to the Pentagon, yesterday’s attack was based on a decision to protect U.S. personnel abroad by eliminating the Iranian leader who was further developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in the region.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region…This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” a statement from the Department of Defense reads.
Known for his leadership role with shia militias and terrorist groups in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq in addition to Iran, Soleimani had a close relationship with and maintained strong support from Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.
In the U.S., however, he is viewed by many as a ruthless leader, responsible for killing hundreds of Americans and providing weaponry and advanced training to Iraqi insurgents.
After overseeing a series of attacks conducted by Iranian-backed Shia militias on coalition bases in Iraq, the Defense Department attributes Soleimani with the death of hundreds of Americans and the wounding of thousands more.
For the past two decades, Soleimani has led many of Iran’s foreign intelligence and military operations in regions where the country often competes for influence with the U.S.
Most recently, Soleimani is responsible for the death of one American and the wounding of others after orchestrating an attack on a coalition base on December 27.
He is also attributed with orchestrating the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on December 31.
The head of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was among those killed in yesterday’s attack.
Additionally, four other senior members accompanying Soleimani, including General Hussein Jaafari Naya, Colonel Shahroud Muzaffari Niya, Major Hadi Tarmi, and Captain Waheed Zamanian, are reported dead.
Although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that the United States is committed to de-escalation, Amir Hatami, Iran’s Defense Minister has vowed “crushing revenge” to those responsible for Soleimani’s death.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a statement condemning yesterday’s attacks saying, “The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani – THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al – is extremely dangerous & a follish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
Khamenei has allocated three days of national mourning in Iran following Soleimani’s death.
In the U.S. however, Soleimani’s death is viewed by many as a foreign policy success.
“General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more… but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself,” President Trump said of Soleimani’s death.
In Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) issued a statement of support, describing the administration’s recent action as “long-overdue justice for the thousands of Americans killed or wounded by his Iranian-controlled forces across the Middle East, and for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Iraqi Sunnis.”
Sen. Cruz also described yesterday’s action as “justice for our Israeli allies who suffered decades of terrorism at the hand of Hezbollah terrorists commanded by IRGC Quds Force.”
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds (IRGC) Force, of which Soleimani was the commander, was officially designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the Department of State in April.
Other Texas representatives, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-2), have also expressed support for the recent foreign policy action.
Describing the events as “historic,” Rep. Crenshaw attributes Soleimani with spending “more than 20 years spreading death and destruction across the region, to include engineering and providing IEDS to the Shia militias in Iraq that were used to kill hundreds of Americans.”
Some Democratic lawmakers, however, have challenged President Trump, claiming he acted unilaterally in his decision by not consulting Congress before acting.
Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16) recently issued a statement of opposition to the president’s action.
In response to a tweet from Rep. Pete King (R-NY) calling for Americans to unite behind President Trump and his decision, Rep. Escobar said, “This is not about blind loyalty to one man.”
“Who provided this guidance [and] what was the intelligence that led to it? Why wasn’t Congress consulted? What is the strategy going forward?” she then questioned.
Other Democrats in Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have also expressed opposition to the president’s action, citing concerns over escalations of violence as a result and a lack of consultation with Congress prior to engaging in the attack.
The death of Iran’s most powerful general could be seen as an act of war, leading foreign policy officials in the administration to closely monitor Iran as well as American forces in the region to see how the country chooses to respond.
According to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the U.S. is prepared to take pre-emptive action if Iran chooses to retaliate with new attacks.
- Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
- Amir Hatami
- Ayatollah Khamenei
- Baghdad International Airport
- Dan Crenshaw
- Department of Defense
- Hadi Tarmi
- Hussein Jaafari Naya
- Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force
- Javad Zarif
- Mark Esper
- Mike Pompeo
- Nancy Pelosi
- Pete King
- Popular Mobilization Forces
- President Trump
- Qassem Soleimani
- Shahroud Muzaffari Niya
- Ted Cruz
- Veronica Escobar
- Waheed Zamanian
Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.