Iranian General Soleimani has been killing American soldiers since 2005 when he commissioned the invention of the penetrator improvised explosive device. That single bomb was responsible for over 600 American service members deaths and thousands of wounded soldiers and marines. The revelation came during our time of the surge in Iraq and was recently reaffirmed by a Pentagon finding this past Spring 2019.
Beyond this, the Quds Force (Quds is the word for Jerusalem in both Farsi and Arabic) is not a typical, regular military force by modern military standards. It is an extra-military force that operates with the specific task of intentional espionage and terrorist activities. Again, this isn’t speculation, it was revealed via intercepted communications by numerous intelligence bodies. The Quds force General outranks the President of Iran as its Commander reports directly to the Ayatollah, superseding presidential oversight. They are responsible for training, funding, and operating the Hezbollah activities in Lebanon, Syria, and North Africa. In these areas thousands of civilians have been killed, many through sectarian strife I will admit, but many others due to a simple fact that they are Sunni and therefore there enemy of the Shia and, thus, Iran.
This man has commanded this force for twenty years and was so known to be a bad guy that the UN listed him, by name, as part of the Iranian sanctions unanimously in the Security Council.
All of that brings us to the Baghdad Airport strike. So background on his and Quds Force activities in Iraq. In 2004 I was on a patrol and we saw three Mercedes driving in our very rural, very poor area. At the time we were hunting the fundraisers for the insurgency as well as al Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. When we stopped these vehicles and I opened the door on the middle car there were two men in Iranian military officer uniforms, one of which was equivalent to a colonel. I still own the handcuffs i placed on him. Long story short, everyone is taken in for questioning. The Iraqi men turned out to be players in the funding ring of insurgents and the Intel guys told us they found out that the Iranians were there to meet and procure contacts to fund those men but since they were uniformed neutral country actors we had to let those Iranians go. A year later two friends of mine are killed on that exact road by a penetrator IED. Secondly, during my time there, Muqtada al Sadr rose up with an insurgent cell called the Mehdi or Mahdi Army. This group was Shia in Sadr City, Baghdad. We were unsure of their finding and sudden ability to wage a decent fight until Muqtada overstepped and killed a highly respected but pro-US cleric. An Interpol warrant was issued for him on charges of murder and he disappears. About 4 months later intelligence tracks him to Tehran where he is living under the protection of the Quds force. Months after our “withdrawal” from Iraq, al Sadr returns and this Shia militia begins to grow again.
Now recent activities, Quds has been funding the Shia militia in Iraq, openly, and has fought ISIS. This has been covering, again openly, of building a base of influence within the government and power centers in Iraq. Iran is attempting to rectify the Iran-Iraq war from the 80s by taking over a weakened Iraq from within. This is still almost impossible with a US presence and Iran had begun growing impatient – naval harassment, attack on Saudi oil fields/ refinery, shooting down American surveillance drone. But they recently messed up and did the thing that they hadn’t done since around 2010, they attacked the US directly through their proxy militia. Quds always build proxies si that they have international cover and deniability for their actions. This Shia militia proxy rocketed a US military training compound wounding three soldiers and killing a contractor trainer (contractor has a bad name now but we contact retired police officers and military individuals as legitimate teachers within the Iraq police and military academies, they aren’t mercenaries in this case). We responded by attacking this militias bases in Iraq and Syria. Again, this militia sends its members to protest at our embassy in Baghdad and bill themselves as mourners. In the crowd, giving direction and orders as the mourners begin overrunning our embassy, is Iraqi government official and Shia militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. This man had visited the Oval Office in 2011 to set terms for withdraw.
So as they breach the embassy, by international law, they have committed an act of direct warfare on the United States by invading sovereign US soil as all embassies are by international treaty. The president issues a message to Iran directly saying that it will withdraw its proxy militia before people get hurt or face a full attack, which suddenly within just a couple hours the mourners withdraw. Now, this was a message to the Iranian government, not Iraqi, even though the events are in Baghdad.
Now to the strike. General Solemani was transiting from Syria back to Iran. He had been overseeing Hezbollah direct action operations against enemies of Syrian President Assad, again killing people trying to free their country from a dictator’s grasp. Solemani is met at BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) by Muhandis as the government and militias welcoming man. They are both killed in the airstrike. There was and is the belief that Solemani orchestrated the embassy attack and was there to oversee a larger pending operation against US forces. America, over the last twenty years and specifically the hundreds of dead soldiers from 2005-2010, had had enough of this guy’s free movement and deadly activities.
Some may call it an assassination but in military terms and law, he was now a combatant indirect control of a proxy army. There were clear connections between him, the militias, the man leading the attack on the embassy, and pending proxy actions. While it was provocative in the act, the airstrike, in my opinion, was warranted and a direct strike on a high battlefield commander. The international shockwaves are that usually this just isn’t done but that doesn’t make it illegal nor immoral. Also President Bush authorized 365 or so drone strikes and President Obama around 580 or so. None of these were done with congressional approval of the action nor informing a congressional body. President Trump was just reauthorized drone strike authority by Congress in the December Military Spending Bill passed by Congress and sent to the president for his signature. This bill then gave him the legal authority to act in his role as Commander in Chief and call the strike just as the past two presidents have. It is now vogue to question, prosecute, and opine against anything this president does but that doesn’t mean he did anything actually wrong in this instance. To me, the strike was legal and within the authority of the Office of the President.
Today we saw Iran’s true colors. They have launched a full-fledged military assault upon US bases in Iraq, openly claiming the action. This cannot stand, there will be a response. I believe that the Iranian regime will see a powerful aerial assault via bombers, strike fighters, and cruise missiles. This event will show that Iran cannot match American military might. In my opinion, this response should still be measured – target infrastructure, ports, airbases – to send a clear message to the Iranian people that the Americans stand with them and the door is open for them to take back their country. We don’t need boots on the ground, we just need to provide freedom-loving people the opportunity to seize their own destiny and throw off the yoke of tyranny just like America did in 1776.