‘The assassination of a popular Iranian general in Baghdad is a game-changer in the conflict between Washington and Tehran, which had remained restricted to cloak-and-dagger shenanigans and proxy hostilities, analysts have told RT.
The Trump administration escalated its standoff with Iran to a whole new level on Friday by ordering a targeted assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force. The Iranian general was blown up along with 11 other people, including a senior commander of an Iraqi militia backed by Tehran, when their motorcade was hit by US guided missiles just outside Baghdad International Airport.
The attack marks a dramatic and extremely dangerous change in US policies vis-à-vis Iran, Middle East-based journalist and writer Ali Rizk told RT.
Trump previously had resorted to what was termed as a ‘maximum pressure campaign’ .. based on economic sanctions trying to choke Iran economically. That policy appears to have failed… Now Trump has resorted to a new policy of targeted assassinations.
Washington claims it was justified in killing Soleimani because the Iranian general was planning attacks on American citizens. As the commander of the commando branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), he was directly involved in coordinating the activities of various militia groups in Iraq and Syria. The militias played an essential part in fighting against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in both countries, boosting Iranian regional influence and Soleimani’s personal popularity.
The American government, which formally designated the IRGC a terrorist organization amid last year’s growing hostility towards Iran, appears to see no difference between Soleimani and IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a US raid last October. But, with Soleimani being a senior figure and “part of a state apparatus,” this was a dangerous delusion, Rizk believes, adding that the precedent in turn will put crosshairs on every US official.’
Read more: All bets are off: Trump brings conflict with Iran to unprecedented level, just a step short of all-out war