Not a good start to the year

It seems unlikely that the assassination of a general from a country with whom the United States is not at war is going to end well for Americans:

President Donald Trump has ordered an airstrike that killed Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, at Baghdad International Airport, the Pentagon confirmed.

The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which were responsible for the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, officials said.

Tehran has vowed ‘crushing’ vengeance for Soleimani’s death, an extremely popular figure at home, the country’s highest ranking general and responsible for shaping Iranian foreign policy throughout the Middle East.

A Pentagon statement issued to late Thursday, Washington DC time, said: ‘At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Quasem Soleimani.’

The United States has nearly two million Iranian residents living inside its borders. I tend to doubt most of them are more loyal to President Trump and the U.S. military than the Iranian people, which is why I am concerned that the next stage of the USA’s Syracuse Expedition may have just begun.

It’s particularly disappointing because the president had been doing such a good job of refusing to expand the needless imperial wars up until now. Perhaps the strike was legitimately justified, but given the last 18 years of costly, pointless, and mostly unsuccessful war, that also appears less than likely.

Certainly the Iraqis don’t appreciate the action.

The caretaker leader of Iraq’s protest-challenged government, Adil Abdul Mahdi, said the US assassination operation was a “flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty” and an insult to the dignity of his country. He stressed that the US had violated the terms under which American troops are allowed to stay in Iraq with the purpose of training Iraqi troops and fighting the jihadist organization Islamic State. 

UPDATE: ‘Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the US Embassy urges American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately. US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land.’

Despite all the announcements and theatrics, I can’t help but observe that an identification reportedly based on a well-known ring could be faked rather easily. It would not shock me if Soleimani were to unexpectedly surface in the future.