Iran: Soleimani believed he was being trailed says expert
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In the book entitled: ‘War by Other Means – A General in the Trump White House’, the former security advisor appears to have diverted from the official line of why General Soleimani was targeted. There is no mention that the Iranian commander was planning an imminent attack on US interests in Iraq, as per the official statement following the assassination.
An attack by Iraqi militias that hit the US Embassy compound in Baghdad, killing a civilian contractor is being blamed as the ‘red line’.
General Kellogg said in the book: “’We would respond. And this time our response would be disproportional.”
Citing that the target would be the top Iranian commander, he said: ‘We jumped up the escalation ladder. Our answer would be unambiguous. Our target would be Soleimani.”
Lt. General Soleimani was killed when a US drone targeted his vehicle convoy as it left Baghdad International Airport.
The assassination is seen by many as an illegal and unjustified state-sponsored execution.
Barbara Slavin, Iran expert with the Atlantic Council, said the strike happened at a time when former President Donald Trump was under intense pressure to get tough on Iran.
“I think he was quite terrified that the U.S. embassy could be taken over like the Iranian embassy was taken over after the Iranian revolution… it was very much an ex post facto explanation for doing what was an extraordinary escalation and something that was illegal under international law.”
United Nations special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Agnes Callamard presented her findings to the UN, backing up the claims that the assassination was illegal.
“Major General Soleimani was in charge of Iran military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the U.S. was unlawful,” said Ms Callamard.
The resulting tension in the area following the strike saw Iranian missiles pound a US airbase in Iraq, an action that led to the first steps of American troop withdrawal from the country.
With the region on the verge of a significant conflict, and Iran on high alert in the hours that followed the events, a Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 from Tehran to Kyiv was accidentally shot down by Iranian defence systems, adding to the grief.
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Lt. Gen Solemani was thought to be the second most powerful man in Iran after the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and during his military career, was accredited with the defeat of ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.
His funeral saw millions of people flood the streets of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and beyond, and saw former US President Donald Trump as the perpetrator of the act.
Nearly two years on, the legacy of Lt. Gen Soleimani has elevated him to martyrdom status in Iran, with a series of streets, highways and buildings named after him.
Iran has vowed to pursue legal proceedings in complaints lodged with the UN over the assassination, which for some, was seen as an act of war.
US presence in the area has suffered from less support since the assassination, with troops leaving Iraq and more recently Afghanistan.
With Keith Kellogg’s book bringing new light into the rationale behind the illegal assassination of Soleimani, tension will run further between Iran and the US as critical talks over the Iranian nuclear programme, known as the JCPOA continue to stall.
Iran says it is willing to return to full JCPOA compliance once the US, who left the agreement on their own accord, lift all imposed sanctions on the country.
Concerns are still in place over Iran’s nuclear programme, which Tehran states is solely for civilian purposes, and that it has, and always will abide by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, which it signed in 1968.
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