Today’s Campaign Update
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)
[Note: I received the following insights over the weekend from the same veteran who has contributed here previously. It is fairly long, but well worth the read if you want to really understand why Soleimani’s killing was not only justified, but essentially mandatory for any U.S. President interested in doing his job properly. I have added some bolding for emphasis.]
From: A Veteran with 20+ years of service, a Naval Aviator who flew combat missions in Iraq, and had 15+ years in counter-terrorism. Also served as a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola.
Over the past several days, I’ve watched the Network News and various news outlets struggle with the reporting on the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani (IRCG, Quds Commander). While it has been infuriating watching Democrats from the media through presidential candidates lament the death of the world’s leading terrorist, much of that is born of ignorance to the region and simply not knowing who Qassem Soleimani was or what he was responsible for.
Some CRITICAL background information needed to understand what is going on with regard this termination.
All middle east discussions have to start with viewing of conflicts based not on borders or nations, but primarily as Sunni or Shia. If you have 9 minutes to start an understanding on middle-east issues, the video linked here is a must-watch.
If you don’t have 9 minutes, the Cliff’s notes are thus:
After Muhammad died, Islam split based on who they thought should rule. Sunni Muslims thought that direct descendants of Muhammad should rule the Islamic World. Shiite (Shia) Muslims think that Islam should be led by Clerics. Much in the way that Christianity fought centuries of wars from the middle of the 1400’s with the Hussite Rebellion in the Czech Republic (the first sparks of Protestantism) through the 30 years war (ending in 1648) against itself…Islam has never had an equivalent of the Peace of Westphalia, and the rival sects have killed millions of each other in Allah’s name over the centuries. Islamic Empires (and now nations) have very rarely fought a secular war. It is either Jihad for expansion (the last one of those ended Sept 11th, 1683 in Vienna) or against Israel (the Great Satan), or an effort to impose their brand of Islam on others.
When applying the Sunni/Shia split to Iran, that nation is virtually exclusive Shia, as reflected in their Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. The first portion of that name, “Ali” is a title that infers his position as the head of Shiite Islam. While Iran has an elected President and other houses of Government, as an Islamic Theocracy, Ali Khamenei’s position supersedes all elected officials, and he is also the head cleric of a large portion of the Islamic world.
This religious position is critical for Iranian influence around the world, as Shia Muslims outside of Iran will typically have primary allegiance to Ali over any local government. Additionally, the punishments for denial of this authority are well beyond a fine or prison time. Refusal to submit to the authority of Ali is often punished as apostasy which carries the penalty of death. Briefly imagine the complexities of being an Iraqi Police Commander and your force is a mix of Sunni and Shia police officers.
So, what is the IRGC, and the Quds Force, and why did Qassem Soleimani need to die?
Just as we have covered that Iran has a secular style of government and a religious government, it also has parallel military forces. Iran maintains a “regular” Army, Navy, and Air Force that are organized along standard structures. Parallel to these forces, Iran also maintains the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) which follows only the orders of Ali Khamenei. The IRGC’s mission is essentially in its name: It Guards the Revolution, and that revolution was to make Shia Islam the ruling force of Iran (when the Shah was deposed) and spread that influence across the globe.
The IRGC has components that mirror Army, Navy, Special Forces, and Intelligence structures. When you hear talking heads on TV say things like “Iran is behind this” or “Iranian backed rebels,” they are talking about influence that is exported via the IRGC, specifically the Quds force which was led by Qassem Soleimani.
When Americans think of famous terrorists, the first to come to mind is Usama Bin Laden. While UBL’s name came to prominence after the September 11th attacks until his ultimate demise, the reach and resources of Al Qaeda paled in comparison to what Iran has done over the past 40+ years.
Over the last two decades, every terrorist action or Shiite Rebel Campaign has come at the direction of Qassem Soleimani.
There has been the data point that Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of 603 American troops in Iraq. While this is true, it is an incredibly small line item in the overall bill that we owed Soleimani as that number was due to a specific munition that was traced to Iran and the IRGC.
The broader truth is that Iran used the IRGC Quds force as their focal point for exerting Shia influence in Iraq since the U.S. removal of Saddam Hussein. 10+ years of insurgency and interference with the best chance Democracy has ever had in the middle east were led by Qassem Soleimani. Oh, and all of the conflicts in Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Gaza are his responsibility as well.
To understand just how important Qassem Soleimani is, consider that his responsibilities are essentially the same as our: Head of CIA, Head of Secret Service, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and 4 Star SOCOM Commander. An absurd claim by the media was that Soleimani was our “ally against ISIS”. It is true that Shia militias backed by the IRGC fought against ISIS (which was Sunni). At no point did the United States ever ally ourselves with the IRGC or Qassem Soleimani. The better analogy is that Iran is Shia version of ISIS, they just have control of a nation and international standing (by virtue of their revolution, allowed by Jimmy Carter) and ISIS’ territory and government never gained international recognition…and Trump crushed ISIS.
Why did he have to die?
This is the question that the mainstream media has been tripping over themselves in failed attempts to answer.
His record of deploying weapons to insurgents to use against US Troops is enough to warrant his death sentence for any reasonable person. The balance of his list of war crimes and crimes against humanity should be enough to remove any doubt.
What finally got him terminated was the brazen attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad last week. It is frankly shocking that a man in this position felt comfortable moving freely about Iraq and directing this attack personally. It is stupefying that US Media outlets covered that attack as “mourners” marching on the embassy. Some of them probably still believe that the attack in Benghazi was because of a youtube video. President Trump had previously warned Iran after they shot down a drone that they would bear an extreme price if they “shot at anything American” again.
In this case, all of the diplomatic finger pointing was skipped. There was no trial in the media or on the floor of the UN where we produced pictures of the General at the Airport and made a case to the international community. The trial phase took place in a SCIF, and Soleimani’s sentence was delivered by the red-button of a REAPER operator watching the cross hairs on his FLIR display. That poor pilot didn’t even get to hear the “woosh” of the weapon leaving the rail.
Iran has announced that they are going to have “Three Days of Mourning”. I personally think that translates to “Give us 72 hours to try and figure out just how badly we have screwed up.” I don’t have any bold predictions on how Iran will respond, if at all.
Certainly, there will be bluster. Senator Lindsey Graham has already mentioned just how easily Iran could be put out of the Oil Business. My friends in Naval Aviation assure me that can happen in a day. I do not think the Iranian leadership can survive much longer if economics don’t change.
The ball is squarely in Iran’s court at this point. President Trump made it clear that he prefers to negotiate, and this week’s actions show that he is a man of his word, and he won’t hesitate to “whack a made man”. Iran’s regular military should be respected, but not feared. If Iran chooses to attack a capital asset like a Navy Warship or launch missile attack against a Saudi Airbase, the response would be overwhelming.
That is all.
Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.