Israel has sought to instigate an unwanted war between the US and Iran

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The US military is on a state of high alert and has recently sent to the Middle East two B-52s <>, the submarine USS Georgia and ordered USS Nimitz to stay in the Gulf due to 'Iran’s threats <>'. US President Donald Trump has vowed to strike Iran "if one American soldier is killed in Iraq <>." Meanwhile, US news reports claim that Iran is preparing a strike against US forces to avenge the unlawful assassination of the Revolutionary Guard Corps - Quds Brigade Commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was treacherously killed by a US drone in Baghdad airport a year ago on the orders of Trump and his team. In reality, the two countries do not want war and are sending messages through intermediaries (Kuwait, Iraq and Oman) that they do not want a confrontation, particularly at this time, when Trump has less than three weeks left in the White House.

US officials confirmed directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that, in the first months of 2019, Israel sent <> suicide drones which destroyed various warehouses belonging to the Iraqi security forces. In these Israeli attacks <>, more than 18 Iraqis serving in the Army, the Federal Police and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were killed and more than 8 warehouses of weapons and ammunition in the sites were destroyed <>. Different sites were targeted close to the capital Baghdad and in other areas throughout the Iraqi geography up to the Iraqi-Syrian borders.

The US has repeatedly violated the terms of its presence in Iraq, “to support the Iraqi security forces in their fight against the “Islamic State” (ISIS).” Since the US controls Iraqi airspace, it was the US command that allowed more than nine Israeli drone attacks against the Iraqi security forces, making it, along with Israel, directly responsible for these violations.

Various Iraqi resistance organisations responded against US-military bases in Iraq by launching blindly inaccurate rockets, resulting in the killing of an Iraqi-American contractor, Nawras Hamed <>, in December 2019.

A few days later, (former) US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper called (former) Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to inform him – not to consult or warn - of his decision to strike the PMF bases in revenge for the death of the Iraqi-American contractor. Abdul-Mahdi replied (as Abdel Mahdi informed the author) that such an open strike by the United States was a violation of the US-Iraqi agreement and of Iraq’s sovereignty, and warned Esper that a violent reaction would follow against the US forces deployed in Iraq.

Esper ignored Abdul Mahdi’s warning: US warplanes struck <> Iraqi security forces bases, including one on the Iraqi-Syrian border, killing 28 members of the Federal Police, the army and the Popular Mobilization Forces. After their burial, their comrades held a demonstration <> in front of the US Embassy in Baghdad, attacking the entrance door and gate, causing material damage and showing their anger and indignation at the unlawful US killing. Abdel Mahdi threatened to resign if protesters did not immediately evacuate the perimeter of the US embassy. All demonstrators left and counter-terrorism forces took charge of protection of the US diplomatic mission.

President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at 21:00 local time, on December 31, 2019. Trump asked Abdel Mahdi (who informed the author) about the identity of the attackers and if they were Iranians. Abdul Mahdi confirmed that they were companions of those killed by the US strikes and that he had warned Esper of the consequences prior to the attack. President Trump requested the intervention of Iraq to ease US-Iranian tensions and negotiate a de-escalation with Iran. The Iraqi Prime Minister agreed to act as a mediator and asked his office to contact the office of Major General Qassem Soleimani to invite his commander to Iraq on an official mission to negotiate and deliver the US message.

Hajj Qassem left Tehran for Beirut on the 1st of January 2020, where he met Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah. Late at night, he left to Syria, where he spent the night. The next day, he met early in the morning with an inner circle of Iranian and Lebanese officers responsible for military and logistical operations. He met with all officers until late afternoon and later went to Damascus airport to board a Boeing A320 aircraft belonging to Sham Wings (Ajnihat al-Sham). The flight was delayed in Syria for two hours but managed to land at Baghdad airport at 12:17 a.m. after midnight.

The Iranian commander, Soleimani, was the first to leave the plane, and his companions, four Iranian officers (Husein Pur Jafari, Mozafari Nia, Vahid Zamani Nia and Hadi Taremi) walked behind him to meet Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes at the bottom of plane steps. It was 12:31 when Soleimani got into the car waiting for him with the Deputy Commander of the PMF, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Muhandis came with his aide-de-camp Muhammad al-Shaibani, Muhammad Reza al-Jabri and Ali Haidar. The two cars drove on the airport road and, at 12:37 a.m., two MQ9-Raps drones attacked and destroyed the convoy, incinerating all passengers.

Iraqi investigators believe that a US team of special operation forces was first on the spot to collect samples to confirm the killing. They took pictures that exclusively appeared on US media channels in the first moments after the attack, even before Iraqi teams arrived at the scene.

Iranian officials consider that it has responded adequately for the moment to the unlawful assassination by bombing the largest US military base in eastern Anbar at Ain Al-Assad base, inflicting casualties (100 wounded <>). Tehran also believes that Iraq has the primary responsibility for taking revenge <> for the two commanders and their companions because the US deceived Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi by requesting negotiations and then killing the Iranian envoy. Soleimani travelled to Iraq at the official demand of the Iraqi Prime Minister and arrived in Baghdad as an envoy of his country. Accordingly, the first reaction came from the Iraqi Parliament when it enacted binding legislation <> (out of 329 MPs, 173 votes in favour) ordering all US forces to leave the country.

The second response came from Iraqi organisations that carried out more than 90 sporadic attacks <> against the American forces in Iraq and their logistical supplies. The attacks have been so far considered a soft message: Trump promised to leave Iraq at the end of November, though he failed to keep his promise. Moreover, the Iraqis are aware that Trump may be looking for an excuse to start a war in his last weeks in office in order to commit the president-elect Joe Biden’s administration to a war he may not want with Iran. Therefore, the attacks have avoided US casualties so far. However, this Iraqi soft approach is not expected to last after 20th January 2021.

Consequently, there is no reason for any Iranian attack to commemorate the anniversary of the martyrdom of Soleimani and al-Muhandes. The leader of the Iranian Revolution, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, has declared his goal <> to drive the US forces out of West Asia. Consequently, the threat and the corresponding mutual threats between the US and Iran are nothing but verbal intimidation and are not expected to go beyond this level.

There is little doubt that President-elect Biden will face serious problems left by Israel (by bombing PMF warehouses, killing Iraqi security forces and triggering the tit-for-tat). Trump’s administration accepted these Israeli actions, and in consequence, promoted the current war-like situation in the Middle East. 

No actual war in the Middle East is expected before Trump leaves power on January 20th. Neither Iran nor the US want a confrontation at this point which would have devastating consequences for both sides. Iran warned all Middle East countries where the US maintains military bases that they will not be spared from the first moment that any US missile falls on the “Islamic Republic”.

Israel forced Trump’s hand to stay in Syria, to give Jerusalem to Israel, to pressure the Emirates, Bahrein, Sudan and Morocco to normalise relations with Israel and to offer Israel the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The US will bear the consequences, not only of having reinforced Iran’s position in the Middle East and confirming it as a powerful regional player but by sooner or later having to leave Iraq completely.

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai <>