Threats, Rallies and Rocket Fire in Weekend Following Iranian General’s Killing

January 6, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds force

Monday, 6 January 2020 | Iran spent the weekend licking its wounds and vowing revenge following the US strike in Iraq that killed the Islamic regime’s top general, leading to a back-and-forth war of words—and a few rockets—between Washington and Tehran.

The late General Qassam Soleimani served in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as commander of the Quds force, which handles military and intelligence operations outside the border of Iran. He was killed in a drone strike early Friday morning at Baghdad’s international airport along with ten other people.

Soleimani’s remains were transported to Iran and paraded over the weekend as millions of people crowded the streets to bid farewell to the second most powerful man in the Islamic Republic.

The terror commander’s farewell tour was reportedly the largest funeral procession in Iran since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s procession in 1989. People decked in black burned American and Israeli flags while waving red Shiite flags—a symbolic call for vengeance. Soleimani’s daughter vowed on television that her father’s death would lead to a “dark day” for the US.

Iran announced that it was completely withdrawing from its nuclear restrictions under the 2015 nuclear deal while the Islamic Republic’s parliament opened its session chanting “Death to America.”

The same night, 2–3 rockets were fired at Iraq’s Green Zone in Baghdad, the international zone where the US Embassy is located. A few civilians were injured, according to the Times of Israel, citing local media, but no other casualties or damage resulted from the attack.

Just before the attack, pro-Iran Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia, warned Iraqi security forces starting at 5 p.m. Sunday to stay at least 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) away from the US bases.

The previous night, more rockets were fired at the Green Zone before multiple air strikes against Iranian and proxy bases in Syria, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing Arab media.

US President Donald Trump fired back on Twitter, warning that if Iran strikes any Americans, the US has “targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment […] If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!” he added.

For anyone doubting whether Trump will make good on his threats, the wording of his tweet rings familiar to what he said days before the drone strike that killed Soleimani on Friday: Iran will pay a “very BIG PRICE!”

The Iraqi parliament, still stinging from the US strike on its soil, called for an ousting of the 5,200 US soldiers currently stationed in Iraq to keep radical Islamic State militants at bay. The parliament drafted a bill to be approved by the government that will cancel the deal allowing Washington to station forces in Iraq.

Trump threatened “sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever” that will “make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame” against Iraq if the government expels American forces from the nation.

Nonetheless, 3,000 more US soldiers were deployed to nearby Kuwait following the American drone strike Friday morning.

The Supreme Leader of Iran has already named the late Soleimani’s replacement as commander of the Quds force: General Esmail Ghaani, who seems no friendlier than his predecessor.

“Allah the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and Allah is the main avenger,” he vowed on Iranian state television on Monday. “Certainly actions will be taken.”

“We promise to continue down martyr Soleimani’s path as firmly as before with help of Allah, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region,” he added.”

The potential for a major flare-up between the US and Iran—or even war—will put Israel at risk, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) said in its annual report to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin Monday afternoon, according to the Jerusalem Post. Washington and Jerusalem have publicly affirmed their loyalty to each other during this crisis with Tehran—therefore the Jewish state could be caught in the cross-fire between the two powers.

Posted on January 6, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 6, 2020)

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