50 killed at Soleimani funeral in Iran

This may add to the tensions in Iran and Iraq – Qasem Soleimani burial: Stampede kills 50 mourners

Fifty people have been killed and more than 200 injured in a stampede as Iranians gathered for the burial of a leading commander killed in a US drone strike.

Millions are already estimated to have packed the streets for a series of funeral processions in Iran.

Soleimani’s killing has raised fears of a conflict between the US and Iran.

The US has labelled him a terrorist, and in explaining why he ordered the strike President Trump said he was acting on an “imminent” threat.

The head of the Quds Force was tasked with defending and projecting Iranian interests abroad, and was hailed as a hero in his home country.

He was also regarded as having been instrumental in the defeat of Isis in Syria.

That is ironic – Trump has claimed credit for the defeat of ISIS, but that battle still isn’t over

Bloomberg last October:  Graham Says Trump’s ‘Biggest Lie’ Is of Islamic State’s Defeat

One of Donald Trump’s biggest defenders in Congress rebuked the president’s decision to step aside from Kurdish allies in Syria while Turkey’s military advances, saying it would result in the re-emergence of ISIS.

“ISIS is not defeated, my friend. The biggest lie being told by the administration is that ISIS is defeated,” Senator Lindsey Graham told “Fox and Friends” in a phone call Monday. “The Caliphate is destroyed, but there’s thousands of fighters” still there.

Also, from Fox: Sen. Graham warns Syria withdrawal would be ‘big win for ISIS,’ compares Trump’s strategy to Obama

And the ISIS risks my have been raised by the assassination.

New York Times: Conflict With Iran Threatens Fight Against ISIS

The American assassination of a top Iranian commander may make it impossible for American forces to stay in Iraq. That could ease an ISIS comeback.

For the militants of the Islamic State, the American drone strike that killed the Iranian commander Qassim Suleimani was a two-for-one victory.

First, the killing of General Suleimani removed the leader of one of the Islamic State’s most effective opponents, responsible for building up the alliance of Iran-backed militias that did much of the ground fighting to drive the militants out of their strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

The assassination has also redirected the wrath of those militias and their many political allies inside Iraq squarely against the American presence there, raising doubts about the continued viability of the American-led campaign to eradicate what is left of the Islamic State and to prevent its revival in both Iraq and neighboring Syria.

“This is precisely the sort of deus ex machina the organization needed, to give it room to operate and to allow it to break out of its current marginality,” said Sam Heller, an analyst at the International Crisis Group who studies the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Just Security – Trump’s Fatal Mistake: Killing Suleimani vs. Countering ISIS

The fight against ISIS is on hold. It’s unclear how exactly it will ever resume. With U.S. and coalition forces hunkered down in anticipation of Iranian retaliation for the killing of Qassem Suleimani and the Iraqi parliament calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, combined with continued fallout from President Trump’s decision to withdraw from parts of Syria, our counterterrorism campaign is deeply compromised.

And running across all of this is the same dynamic – a president who knows very little about how to wage counterterrorism and cares not at all about setting the diplomatic conditions to achieve our goals against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. Counterterrorism is about much more than dropping bombs and training partners, and unless the President or somebody in his administration shows some diplomatic savvy in a hurry, our campaign against ISIS in the region is, for most all intents and purposes, over.

Back to the funeral in Iran – ‘Soleimani’s revenge’: Huge crowds at funeral hear vows of Iranian action

As the coffins of General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who also died in Friday’s attack in Baghdad, were passed over the heads of mourners, Soleimani’s successor vowed to expel US forces from the region in revenge.

The killing of Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s drive to build its influence in the Middle East, has stoked concern around the globe that a broader regional conflict could now erupt.

Trump has listed 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, that could be hit if Iran retaliates with attacks on Americans or US assets, although officials sought to play down the president’s reference to cultural targets.

General Esmail Ghaani, the new commander of the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards charged with overseas operations, promised to “continue martyr Soleimani’s cause as firmly as before with the help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to rid the region of America”.

“God the Almighty has promised to take martyr Soleimani’s revenge,” he told state television. “Certainly, actions will be taken.”

Other political and military leaders have made similar, unspecific threats. Iran, which lies at the mouth of the key Gulf oil shipping route, has a range of proxy forces in the region through which it could act.

The assassination has created problems in an already troubled Iraq.

Iraq’s rival Shi’ite leaders, including ones opposed to Iranian influence, have united since Friday’s attack to call for the expulsion of US troops, who number about 5,000, most of them advisers.

Soleimani, widely seen as Iran’s second most powerful figure behind Khamenei, built a network of proxy forces to create a crescent of influence stretching from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran. Allies also include Palestinian and Yemeni groups.

Trump’s ‘threat of war crimes’

Tehran has said Washington must return to the existing nuclear pact and lift the crippling sanctions before any talks can take place.

Trump stood by remarks that cultural sites were potential targets, despite criticism from US politicians that this amounted to a threat to commit war crimes.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said.

Democratic critics of the Republican president have said Trump was reckless in authorising the strike. Republicans in the US Congress have generally backed his move.

RNZ: US denies troop withdrawal from Iraq after letter sent by general

The United States has no plans to pull troops out of Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says, following reports by Reuters and other media of a US military letter informing Iraq officials about the repositioning of troops in preparation to leave the country.

“There’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq,” Esper told Pentagon reporters when asked about the letter, adding there were no plans issued to prepare to leave.

“I don’t know what that letter is… We’re trying to find out where that’s coming from, what that is. But there’s been no decision made to leave Iraq. Period.”

The United States has about 5,000 US troops in Iraq.

The letter was a poorly-worded draft document meant only to underscore increase movement of US forces, the top US military officer told reporters.

“Poorly worded, implies withdrawal. That’s not what’s happening,” US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, stressing there was no withdrawal being planned.

The authenticity of the letter, which was addressed to the Iraqi defence ministry’s Combined Joint Operations Baghdad and signed by a US general, had been confirmed to Reuters by an Iraqi military source.

Meanwhile we still have an involvement in Iraq that has been affected. RNZ – New Zealand should be a ‘principled voice’ as US-Iran tensions rise, Golriz Ghahraman says

The Green Party defence spokesperson says New Zealand needs to be able to stand up to its allies if the situation between the US and Iran continues to escalate.

Golriz Ghahraman said the situation in Iran had also reignited calls from the Green Party to get troops out of Iraq.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Ron Mark confirmed that training activities being conducted by the 45 New Zealand troops at Iraq’s Camp Taji were being halted. The government is monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has called for restraint and de-escalation in the region.

The New Zealand government was already planning to withdraw troops by June this year.

Ghahraman said she had spoken to Mark about whether troops would need to be evacuated now.

“Whether in fact it is far too dangerous is something we don’t know, but we know the risk is growing by the minute and the situation is changing very fast, so I have raised it with the minister and we are having those conversations now,” she said.

Previous comments by Peters asking for calm early on was the right move, but New Zealand would need to reassess where it stood when allies like the US were threatening war crimes, she said.

“We do have to, in the days to come, reassess whether or not we are really going to stand up to what has become a belligerent US president.

“I think that is a good place for New Zealand to be, that we stand as a principled voice on the international stage and we do call out our allies,” she said.

She hoped it would not come to war, but if it did, she believed the US would try and pressure New Zealand to be involved.

“They have always put pressure on us to join their wars, the kind of war on terror rhetoric we saw in the early 2000s will come back again.

“That pressure was withstood by Helen Clark’s government, then the previous National Party government did put our troops in the position they are now where there is political football being played by someone as reckless as Donald Trump and their lives are on the line. ”

“We have no place contributing to the militarisation of the Middle East, because that doesn’t help the region, but also because it puts Kiwi lives at risk.

“Yes there will be pressure and I would hope this and successive government’s will withstand that if there is a war.”

Greens are likely to resist any attempts to draw New Zealand further into the Middle East mess if things escalate there.

Leave a comment

42 Comments

  1. Reply
  2. US has a responsibility too.

    Reply
  3. Steven Magallanes

     /  8th January 2020

    We don’t need the United States military to intervene in order to kill the people of Iran. The people of Iran and Iraq do a great job of the slaughtering their own people.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th January 2020

      Are you suggesting US doesnt have mass causalities from stampedes too ?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_human_stampedes_and_crushes

      Oh thats right the US has its own special method of killing dozens , the gun massacres.
      Forgotten about those 59 dead at Las Vegas have you ?

      Reply
      • Steven Magallanes

         /  8th January 2020

        Your right! Thanks to the NRA, Americans are really good at killing other Americans. The 2nd Amendment does a great job of taking out school children rather than defending our country from external or internal threats.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th January 2020

          Its not really the 2nd amendment, which over the years has been chopped and changed by the Courts and Federal laws
          The only mostly unfettered ‘right’ given by the 2nd amendment according the Supreme Court rulings is the right to own a pistol. The other gun rights are given by the states on their own call.
          it doesnt include the right to own a machine gun and other types restricted by the National Firearms Act of 1934.

          As NZ has now recognised , its not military style semis or even ordinary semis , its bolt and lever action .22s and .303s as well when they have a large magazine, which are now banned in NZ

          Reply
      • Pink David

         /  8th January 2020

        “Forgotten about those 59 dead at Las Vegas have you ?”

        What about the 500 killed in Chicago last year? This years tally is already into double figures, yet this never gets commented on.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th January 2020

          Its a 35% drop since 2016. Dont know that Chicago has mass killings any more than any other large urban area of around 10 mill people in US. But it still points back to the widespread use of guns of all types.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  8th January 2020

            “Dont know that Chicago has mass killings any more than any other large urban area of around 10 mill people in US.”

            Yes it does, by a very large margin, almost one a week. It accounts for 10% of all such events in the US. They almost never get reported on internationally because it’s the wrong people involved.

            “But it still points back to the widespread use of guns of all types.”

            Chicago has some of the strictest gun control in the US.

            “Its a 35% drop since 2016”

            2016 was a 61% rise from 2015.

            Reply
    • The one great Trumpian achievement in this whole ill-conceived assassination is that he has united the people’s of Iraq and Iran against a common enemy, something no previous POTUS has ever achieved.

      That’s an even bigglier achievement than ignoring the slaughter of Americans by Americans every day as a result of refusing to tighten gun control.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th January 2020

        Don’t worry. The Shia and Sunni will go back to killing each other tomorrow, Trump or no Trump.

        Reply
  4. President Trump is now backing away from targeting cultural sites:
    “If that’s what the law is — I like to obey the law.”

    Which sounds like an all-too-familiar paraphrasing:
    “On occasion, I feel a need to take a break from breaking the law. It can be so exhausting, always getting away with breaking the law.. I mean, I crime perfect crimes! No one knows all the crimes I do, it’s so exhausting. So, sometimes I obey the law, to take a breather. Usually it’s by accident, but I like it. At least, I don’t know when I’m obeying the law most of the time, so I presume I like it. I don’t know. We’ll see.. You’ll see.”

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  8th January 2020

      Your ability to see Trump’s inner thoughts remains impressive.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th January 2020

      Not backing away … as he doubled down from his first claim.
      We dont have to ponder his inner thoughts , his actual words say it all.
      1st :”“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.”- Tweet from Trump

      2nd: ““They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.” – Trump to reporters

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  8th January 2020

      Oh, Boy. I hope Trumpy has his thinking cap on. He may be able to take the Iranian hierarchy out without raising a finger.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  8th January 2020

      Iranians talk big, Trump sends another six B52s to Diego Garcia. I think he’s watching out all right.

      Reply
  5. Zedd

     /  8th January 2020

    just adds more ‘fuel to the fire’..
    btw: Im sure a missile or 3, could also hit MrTs ‘cultural sites’ (his hotels/resorts etc.)
    …LOOK OUT Below.. 😀

    Reply
  6. Duker

     /  8th January 2020

    Are you suggesting this will be a target … watch the guests cancel very quickly

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  8th January 2020

      NO.. but Im sure that the ‘powers that be’ in the ‘Islamic world’ are listening to his rhetoric/reading his tweets etc. & anything is possible.. right about NOW !? :/

      Reply
  7. lurcher1948

     /  8th January 2020

    Iran has put a $80,000,000 bounty on the orange man POTUS 45 donald trumps head so im considering coming out of retirement and make a film called “For $80 million dollars im bringing in the head of donald trump” there will be a lot of golf courses,McDonalds,groping females,and Christian evangelicals, bone spurs and lots of workers being shafted by trump…looking forward to an OSCAR

    Reply
  8. Gezza

     /  8th January 2020

    The cultural targets is a red herring. He might even be referring to legitimate Iranian military targets deliberately located in places of cultural or historical significance. Who knows? Nobody know what targets have been identified.

    Pompeo & Esper both backed Trump & the assassination decision 100% at separate press briefings today. Mark Esper said that they expected Iranian retaliation, & that while the US doesn’t want to start a war with Iran it is prepared to finish one.

    GW Bush & Obama were both in the past apparently presented with the option of killing Soleimani but rejected it because of the unpredictability of the consequences for the Middle East. I imagine there were senior administration officials, possibly including from the State Department, who argued against taking it in those cases.

    Trump took it, despite the unpredictability of the consequences. Trump has made the US an extension of himself. He’s gambler who’s seemingly concluded that he holds all the aces. There seems little prospect of any of his senior officials arguing & winning a case against going to war with Iran if they retaliate. Not with Trump. And if they retaliate, Trump is likely – probably correctly – to conclude that the majority of the US population & Congress will support that decision.

    The fate of Iran & the Middle East rests with the hope that Tehran will be too fearful of Iran’s immediate destruction to carry out its threats of retaliation. And that’s not a bet I’d want make a wager on, especially as Tehran’s revenge rhetoric & appeals to Islamist groups elsewhere may trigger an attack on the US somewhere that even Iran itself would not dare to make right now.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th January 2020

      No its not . Pre-emptive attacks on cultural sites or even military ones is illegal too. Theres no suggestion that things are hidden in cultural sites , plenty of normal buildings for that.
      Good luck to Trump even getting UN approval or Congress approval.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th January 2020

        Good luck to Trump caring about either approval. Iran has launched rockets at US bases. I guess Khamenei is hunkered up underground like Saddam now. Could be there for a while.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th January 2020

          Included is Al Tajid base north of Baghdad where NZ ‘trainers’ are based.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  8th January 2020

            Trump seems to have lit the fuse again this time targeting Iraqi units offshoots of the government. So he has Iran and Iraq offside now.

            “Reports of the strike occurred just hours after a flurry of US airstrikes were carried out on militia bases in Western Iraq and Syria, targeting Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a paramilitary umbrella group that is part of the Iraqi government.

            Reply
  9. Pink David

     /  8th January 2020

    Iran fires a bunch of Scuds, oil price drops 1%.

    Rather interesting.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th January 2020

      Middle of night … wait till markets open

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th January 2020

      Much more capable than Scuds including more modern solid fueled missile’s.
      US has nothing with ranges like that , they mostly stick with cruise missiles wich I’m sure Trump will unleash in the next day or so.
      The idea that US could sudue a nation of 80 mill is just crazy

      Reply
  10. Gezza

     /  8th January 2020

    Reply
  11. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th January 2020

    Didn’t have to wait till tomorrow. Iran has shot down a passenger plane carrying 180 people that took off from its own Teheran airport. So far Trump killed 5 of them, and since then they have killed 236 of themselves. Godless murderous idiots.

    Reply
  12. Pink David

     /  8th January 2020
    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  8th January 2020

      The difference between Obama and Trump is that Obama believed his own nonsense. That’s much more dangerous.

      Reply

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