Alexander's Column

Trump's 'Deal' With Iran ... Soleimani Dead

Contrasting Trump's decisive action in Iran with Obama's Middle East malfeasance.

Mark Alexander · Jan. 3, 2020

Our military forces carried out another remarkable precision strike in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday. Killed in that strike were Gen. Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s elite terrorist Corps-Quds forces, and Soleimani’s Iraqi counterpart, paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes. For decades, Iran has been the wealthiest and most significant state sponsor of Islamic extremists in the Middle East — and Soleimani has directed that terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria.

Boldly, Soleimani traveled to Iraq to oversee the Iran-backed Shiite militia assault on our embassy (and to plan additional assaults) thinking that his forces could overtake it much as his boss, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had done with our Tehran embassy in 1979. Recall then, 52 American diplomats and citizens were taken hostage and held for 444 days — and released immediately after Ronald Reagan took his oath of office on January 20, 1981. Fortunately, Jimmy Carter was no longer president then, but Soleimani was operating as if Barack Obama was still president now — a fatal flaw in his plan.

Apparently Soleimani thought he was more bomb-proof than Islamic State terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who we sent to hell last October. (Recall that WaPo labeled Baghdadi an “austere religious scholar.” By that standard, the Leftmedia will have to tag Soleimani an “international humanitarian.”)

President Donald Trump responded swiftly and decisively to the embassy attack, sending in rapid-force Marine units and Army air reinforcements to repel the militants. He then ordered the death of those who planned it.

Trump made clear: “Suleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years. What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved. We caught him in the act and terminated him. His reign of terror is over.” He also asserted, “We took action to stop war, not start war.”

While the four missiles which took out Suleimani took less than 30 seconds to reach their target, the impetus for their launch goes back to 18 May of 2018, when the president “reset” our policies with Iran, starting with the U.S. pullout Obama’s nuclear “deal” and the reimposition of economic sanctions against Iran. On 8 April of this year, the Trump administration listed Suleimani’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization (Iran having been designated a terrorist state in 1984), and two weeks later, Trump wisely canceled waivers for Iran’s remaining international oil customers, adding to the economic pressure on Iran to divest itself of its nuclear ambitions and abilities.

To suggest killing Suleimani was a “shot across the bow” of Iran’s regime would be grossly understated.

According to retired Gen. David Petraeus, a former U.S. forces commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and former CIA director: “It is impossible to overstate the importance of this particular action. It is more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the death of [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi. Suleimani was the architect and operational commander of the Iranian effort to solidify control of the so-called Shia crescent, stretching from Iran to Iraq through Syria into southern Lebanon. He is responsible for providing explosives, projectiles, and arms and other munitions that killed well over 600 American soldiers and many more of our coalition and Iraqi partners just in Iraq, as well as in many other countries such as Syria. So his death is of enormous significance.”

On how Iran might respond, Petraeus added: “Iran is in a very precarious economic situation, it is very fragile domestically – they’ve killed…thousands of Iranian citizens who were demonstrating on the streets…in response to the dismal economic situation and the mismanagement and corruption. I just don’t see the Iranians as anywhere near as supportive of the regime at this point as they were decades ago during the Iran-Iraq War. Clearly the supreme leader has to consider that as Iran considers the potential responses to what the U.S. has done.”

Two years ago Salami threatened, “Let me tell you, Mr. Trump…know that we are near you, in places that don’t come to your mind. We are near you in places that you can’t even imagine. We are a nation of martyrdom.” Time will tell, but Iranian leaders know that the next U.S. retaliatory targets will be their oil fields.

Trump’s decisive action was clearly no feckless “line in the sand” like Obama issued in Syria.

Further, as Army veteran and frequent Trump critic David French noted, “This was no Benghazi.” That was a reference to Obama’s failure to defend our embassy officials in Libya and the subsequent political coverup ahead of his 2012 election.

As I have noted for years, our operations in the Middle East since the 9/11 attack have been quietly but primarily focused on preventing Iranian-backed terrorists from detonating a fissile weapon in an East Coast urban center.

For context, after George W. Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, many U.S. military casualties were the direct result of Iranian-backed militias. The Bush administration made slow but steady progress to contain the Islamic threat in the region, but when Obama entered the diplomatic debate in 2009, all the blood and treasure expended in Iraq became nothing more than political fodder for his regime’s policy of appeasement.

Recall that in 2012, Obama centered his reelection on his “success” in the Middle East, declaring that al-Qa'ida was “on the run” and using that false claim to initiate a politically expedient withdrawal from Iraq. Predictably, a Middle East meltdown followed, which led to the most catastrophic humanitarian crisis in recent history as millions of Syrian refugees fled into the desert.

How did Obama respond to that crisis?

In a feat of Middle East policy malfeasance unmatched in generations, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and her understudy, John Kerry, empowered Iran’s nuclear capacity with a “Nuke Deal” that advanced the threat of an “Islamic Bomb” detonation in the U.S. And they followed that up by lifting sanctions against Iran and flying in $400 million in cash that, arguably, bolstered its terrorist operations.

Fortunately President Trump put an end to that insanity, restoring sanctions against Iran, supporting pro-democracy movements in the region, and, in the last 24 hours, responding to Iranian aggression with force. The message this sent to pro-democracy leaders in Iran can’t be understated.

Of course, much saber-rattling followed, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif laughably calling the strike an “act of international terrorism” and insisting that Tehran would “exhaust all its political, legal and international capacities … to hold the terrorist and criminal regime of the United States responsible regarding this obvious crime.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi played along, issuing a politically necessary statement condemning the attack as a violation of the terms agreement for maintaining U.S. troops in Iraq. But Abdul-Mahdi clearly understand the Iranian threat to his country and the necessity to abate that threat.

Most assuredly, an escalation of Iranian aggression will follow, but that was inevitable.

Deeply mired in their Trump impeachment mess, the current crop of Democrat Party leaders criticized our military operation as reckless and unconstitutional, in effect coming to Iran’s defense. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) protested, “Did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran?” Yes, he declared Soleimani was “assassinated.”

As for constitutionality, David French laid those Demo claims to rest in a series of social-media posts. French noted that “American troops are lawfully in Iraq, there by congressional authorization and with the permission of the Iraqi government… Iranian-backed militias attacked U.S. troops lawfully present in a combat zone under valid legal authorities. Moreover, America’s military response isn’t limited to immediate self-defense or tit for tat. It can act to remove the threat. That threat includes enemy commanders. The true ‘act of war’ was thus Iran’s – by putting one of its commanders, boots on the ground, in Iraq to assist in planning and directing attacks on U.S. forces. America is entitled to respond to that threat.”

As for impeachment, expect the Democrats to try and retake the news cycle early next week – and refocus on what is left of their impeachment charade.

And a final note: Recall that in October of last year, President Trump was subjected to a barrage of criticism from armchair media experts for his agreement with Turkey regarding the Kurdish lines on the Turks’ southern border in Syria. Amid all the criticism, we noted in “The REAL U.S./Turkey Strategic Endgame — Iran” that “formulating foreign policy and military strategy is akin to a complex multi-dimensional chess match — except the objectives are rarely black and white, and the targets are constantly moving.” We noted further, “Turkey provides the U.S. with strategic airbase access, which will be essential in any regional operations, most notably those against Iran. … In other words, there exists a more pressing but unmentioned objective: containing or eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat.” The operation to kill Baghdadi originated in Turkey shortly after Trump’s realignment of priorities with the Kurds – and the attack on Soleimani was coordinated in part from Turkey.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

Updated

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