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Breakdown of the US/Middle East strategy part 1

By | Rachel Brooks

Contributor | Telegraph Local 

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The US issued an airstrike against Irani general Soleimani Thursday night, in what could be a “severe escalation” of events, citing CNBC. The following is a breakdown of the militarized strategy as events unfold.  

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Citing Reuters, the Pentagon has released statements that Soleimani was arranging attack plans against the United States. Soleimani was the Iran Quds Force Chief. The Pentagon explained that Soleimani’s attack plan was mobilizing against US forces deployed to Iraq and various other stations of the Middle East. 

“The strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” stated the Pentagon adding that the United States would continue to take necessary action to protect Americans and interests around the world. 

The Telegraph UK states that Soleimani’s death far “eclipses” the deaths of both bin Laden and Baghdadi. The death of Soleimani is a grave blow to Iran’s agenda in the region. Yet, his martyrdom may be jet fuel to the resolve of his followers. 

Pentagon officials also state that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the ambitious Hezbollah leader, was believed to have been killed in the Soleimani-killing airstrike. al-Muhandis was one of the leaders present in the Baghdad embassy attack. al-Muhandis was not, however, considered the primary target. 

The killing of al-Muhandis can create many complex scenarios. On the one hand, one of the mobilizing leaders of Kataib Hezbollah has been eliminated. On the other, his death in the wake of a recently embattled Hezbollah may create additional issues for US personnel. Citing Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who stated that while Soleimani was “an enemy of the United States,” the killing could put more Americans at risk.

 

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also stated that Iran could be planning additional attacks. He warned that “the game has changed.” He also cited the current strategy as preemptive moves to further protect American lives. 

The Guardian calls al-Muhandis and important Shia leader. al-Muhandis, also known as Jamal Jafaar Mohammed Ali Ebrahimi, may have had a pivotal role in the forward-moving conflict. He had only just recently addressed his soldiers during the events of the Baghdad embassy attacks. As he stated then,

“The US ambassador, the Americans and their intelligence agencies must not think that they can sustain their control over their bases in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. By Allah, we will stop America and all of its Iraqi cronies, hiding in their offices.” 

Kataib Hezbollah was founded by al-Muhandis. His death has the impact of removing the 66-year-old leader from the playing field of forward-moving Kataib Hezbollah maneuvers. Yet, it also has the cause and effect of driving Hezbollah passions. Their leader has become another martyr of the conflict. 

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Also citing the Guardian, al-Muhandi’s  Shia political career traces back to the tutelage of Tehran and the days of Saddam Husein. al-Muhandis was the son of an Iraqi man and an Irani woman. He was born in Basra in 1953. He joined the Shia opposition in the Dawa party fleeing Iraq in 1980. This was the year of the war outbreak between Iran and Iraq. 

al-Muhandis carried a death sentence on his head after he helped to launch bomb attacks on US and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983. 

Also citing the Guardian, al-Muhandis was the key leader of the Hashed al-Shaabi, or in English, the Popular Mobilization Forces. The PMF were the primary participants of the Baghdad embassy attacks on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2019. 

The forces that mobilized on the Baghdad Embassy vowed retaliatory attacks in Erbil in Basra, citing Raqwa English. Both the New York Times and the Financial Post cite that US oil workers are leaving Basra. As Basra is a city specifically listed as a place of retaliation against US personnel, and as Basra is the birthplace of al-Muhandis, it would stand to reason that this would be the first choice for retaliation now. The Financial Post cites the US embassy as the institution which advised US personnel to depart from Basra. They urged all US citizens to leave Iraq in general hours after Soleimani’s death.

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