US President Donald Trump says he ordered the assassination on Friday of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, “to stop a war.” But that’s simply not true.
Rather than stop a war, Trump just called Tehran’s bluff and wagered all in with the single most daring American act in a conflict that’s been raging for years.
No American president has ever taken the fight to Tehran like this. It’s bold. It’s provocative. And it could set the Middle East aflame — but it is most definitely not stopping a war.
A decades-long war
Why? Because the war between the United States of America and Iran has been underway for more than 40 years. None of this is a secret. It’s just that most Americans don’t know they’ve been at war with Iran.
It’s been out of their sight and, so, out of their minds. Friday’s drone strike that took out Soleimani is but merely one more bump on a well-worn, long, and winding road of a conflict that’s been killing people for generations.
It is a war with an origin story that dates all the way back to 1953. That’s when the Iranians believe America truly picked this fight. For, in 1953, the US staged a coup d’etat in Iran to take down a popular, secular and nationalist prime minister, only to put an indulgent monarch, known as the Shah, in charge.
It’s that American coup that led to the 1979 revolution that placed an ayatollah on the throne and the rule of the mullahs still in power today. The very same mullahs that the now-dead General Soleimani served.
When the Iranians revolted against the Shah, they overran the US Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of American diplomats and Marines hostage, parading them on international television, as seen in the 2012 Hollywood movie “Argo.”
That is when this war began. Not with this week’s drone strike.
In 1983, Iran blew up a Marine barracks at the US Embassy in Beirut, killing dozens. President Ronald Reagan abandoned Lebanon and it appeared Iran had chased the US out of the region.
That same year an Iraqi man called Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis car-bombed the US Embassy in Kuwait. Though he escaped, with Iran’s help, he was sentenced to death in absentia in Kuwait for the bombing. It’s believed he then went on to help hijack passenger planes.
Western intelligence agencies also accuse him of involvement in the hijacking of a Kuwaiti airliner in 1984 and the attempted assassination of a Kuwaiti prince.
Do you want to know who was in the same convoy as General Soleimani on Friday when that drone missile struck?
It was that same car-bomber, al-Muhandis. Al-Muhandis, also known as Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, was twice elected to the democratic Iraqi Parliament the US created after the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein.
He was Soleimani’s number one man in Iraq. In Parliament. Right under the noses of the US military. It was CNN who revealed al-Muhandis’ identity. At first, an unwitting US government did not believe CNN.
But when the US government checked, and confirmed the bomber of their embassy was, in fact, in parliament, al-Muhandis fled Baghdad for the border crossing to Iran.
Al-Muhandis was there to greet Soleimani on Friday at Baghdad airport in Iraq — a country the Iranian general virtually ran and controlled. Soleimani’s plane had just landed and he was with al-Muhandis in the convoy leaving the airport when the drone struck, killing them both.