Aftermath of Soleimani: The Reckless Behavior and Violence Must Stop

Friday, January 3, 2020, Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated near Baghdad’s international airport by weapons launched by the US drones. Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force, is known for masterminding the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He was feared by all Islamist terrorist groups, not just ISIS but also al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and others.
Without offering any evidence, the US President Donald Trump said that he ordered the attack to prevent plots to endanger the US troops and officials. "It was a stunningly, can I say, stupid and counterproductive move on the part of the United States,” said Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a think tank, on CBS This Morning: Saturday (January 4, 2010). “And we're going to pay the price of this, and the people of the Middle East will pay the price for this for years to come." She added that the action makes it, "untenable for American forces to stay in Iraq."
“We are waking up in a more dangerous world, said Amelie de Montchalin, France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, on RTL radio. China expressed, “highly concerned”. Russia condemned the assassination and warned that "retaliatory strikes will certainly follow".
“Trump promised to end endless wars,” US Senator Bernie Sanders said, “but this action puts us on the path to another one.” Other US Senators fear escalation of hostility due to the US action. "I do not see any avenue or any way that talks could begin again,” US Senator Rand Paul said, “And I have been one in favor of talks. But I think, unfortunately, diplomacy is dead now in the Middle East with Iran."
After 10 years of negotiation, the 2015 nuclear accord was reached between Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, Russia, France, and China—plus Germany), known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA). In 2018, the US President Trump unilaterally withdrew from it against the advice of his Secretary of State, his Secretary of Defense, and the European allies. He began economic sanctions to dry out the Iranian exports and forced Iranians into a new negotiation. To the Iranians, his actions were an economic war against the nation. So, the tension escalated and led to shooting down one another’s drones in the Persian Gulf.
Now, the tension between Iran and the US has peaked with the US assassinating Iran’s top general in Iraq without the US getting clearance for the fly over Iraq and discussing the assassination plans with Iraq’s officials. Mr. Trump also did not consult his plans with his top officials or the US Congress. He reportedly consulted with Israel, the archenemy of Iran. "Donald Trump started this cycle of escalation,” Slavin said. “If there is a war, it is Donald Trump's war."
Terrorism in any form or shape, by individuals or state, is morally wrong and against international law. Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the men martyred were “major symbols in achieving victory against” ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups. He called the US attack that killed General Soleimani and Iraqi Military Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis an “aggression against Iraq.” Unfortunately, the UN Security Council is impotent in this case for the US would veto any decisions condemning the US aggression.
Historically, the US involvement in the Middle East has been disastrous for the people in the region. In Iran, the US accompanied the British and the Russians into Iran in 1941, leading to the starvation of thousands of Iranians. It masterminded the 1953 coup against the first ever democratically elected government in Iran to install the Shah, causing the deaths and tortures of thousands of Iranians.
Furthermore, bringing the deposed Shah into the US in 1979 made Iranians feel that another US coup was under way and triggered the taking of the US hostages. The US supported Saddam’s war against Iran. It provided Saddam’s forces with the element for chemical weapons and offered intelligence to Saddam’s forces to use the chemicals on the Iranians in clear violations of international law. For the last 40 years, the US has used every means to depose the Islamic government of Iran. As a sovereign state, it is surprising how cleverly Iran has exerted its independence in the face of continuous US threats.   
As for the Arabs, the US has continuously worked against them. It has supported the brutal Saudi regime since 1945 that keeps secret trials, regularly beheads in public, commit crimes against humanity, and is responsible for the growth of the Wahhabi sect that has been terrorizing the world through al-Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Nusra, Boko Haram, and other splinter groups. The US has collaborated with the Saudis in bombarding the poor country of Yemen, producing the “worst humanitarian crisis”. It has pampered other ruthless dictators in the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, and other Arab countries. It has toppled Saddam, a US ally against Iran, in a bloody invasion under false pretenses when Saddam was perceived no longer serving the US interests, destroying Iraq’s infrastructure and causing millions in deaths, injuries, and refugees.
Against the Arab interests, the US was the first state that recognized Israel and has been supporting it ever since with billions of dollars in arms that has made Israel the most aggressive and oppressive regime in the region. Israel has invaded neighboring Lebanon three times, attacked Gaza repeatedly, and kept the Palestinians oppressed. In some of its strikes against Gaza, the UN evidence suggests it may have committed crimes against humanity. With so much aid from the US, Israel has little incentive to stop the bloodshed, negotiate with the oppressed Palestinians, and pursue peace with its Arab neighbors.
Since Israel’s inception, the region has been in turmoil. Israel does not need more US aid; it is already one of the world’s largest weapon exporters. The US must stop supporting Israel. What Israel truly needs is the courage to reach peace with the Palestinians. That is where the US can help. Once that is done, a comprehensive peace with the Arab neighbors could be achievable.
For the Arabs in the region, the US presence became even more catastrophic since 2011. After the Arab Spring, the US enabled el-Sisi of Egypt to rise to power through a bloody coup. It instigated the civil wars in Libya and Syria, causing millions in deaths, injuries, and refugees. It facilitated the emergence of the terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Nusra in the region.
In fact, the US actions in the Middle East, Korean peninsula, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Somalia, and other countries have set examples that every atrocity is justified by might. It is no wonder that North Korea is pursuing nuclear weapons to prepare itself in case of a US assault. Other countries fearing the US will gradually follow North Korea. Like the US, Russia used its might and annexed Crimea in 2014. More powerful countries will do the same, manipulating, attacking, and annexing weaker countries in the future. Thus, the US as the world’s superpower has set terrible examples and keeps undermining global peace and security. 
Let the region have peace. The assassination of Soleimani appears satisfying for now to Mr. Trump’s insatiable ego, while distracting the attention from his impeachment for a short time. If retaliated, it would put many Iranians, Iraqis, US forces and allies such as Saudis, Bahrainis, and others in harm way. It could escalate into war with Iran and even Iraq that could lead to thousands of innocent people being killed and no winner. To keep some respect, it is time for the US to take its forces and calmly exit the region. Otherwise, to the surprise of Mr. Trump and the neoconservatives, the assassination will mark the fall of the US hegemony in the region, and perhaps the world.
There is no justification for violence. There is neither peace in war nor war in peace. Although we cannot change history, we can learn lessons and be willing to begin to understand one another. Sometimes, we must agree to disagree, but at least be willing to hear other perspectives of a situation. Power, greed, and control are behind all our mishaps. In an historical perspective, what made, but also broke every empire.
“Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding,” said Albert Einstein. If we truly want peace, we MUST lead by example. We MUST act responsibly, stand for freedom, true democracy where all can have voice, and promote global peace. These deplorable US examples of invading, attacking, and terrorizing other countries are leading the world and any prospects of peace into annihilation.

Dr. Mehdi Alavi, President
Peace Worldwide Organization

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