‘BAGHDAD — The recent assassination of Iran’s most popular and well-known general, Qassem Soleimani, has stoked fears that a new war pitting the U.S. and its allies against Iran could soon become a devastating and deadly reality. The airstrike that killed Soleimani, conducted by the U.S. in Baghdad, was conducted without the authorization or even prior notification of the U.S. Congress and without the approval of Iraq’s government or military, making the attack flagrantly illegal on multiple levels. The attack also killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was an advisor to Soleimani.
“The assassination of an Iraqi military commander who holds an official position is considered aggression on Iraq … and the liquidation of leading Iraqi figures or those from a brotherly country on Iraqi soil is a massive breach of sovereignty,” Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said of the attack, adding that the assassination was “a dangerous escalation that will light the fuse of a destructive war in Iraq, the region, and the world.”
Notably, the assassination of Soleimani comes just a few months after an alleged Israeli attempt to kill the Iranian general failed and amid a well-documented and decades-long push by U.S. neoconservatives and Israeli officials for a U.S.-led war with Iran.
While the illegality of the assassination has been noted by many since news of the attack first spread, less attention has been given to the oddities of the Trump administration’s official reasoning and justification for the attack that has brought with it renewed tension to the Middle East. Per administration officials, the attack was aimed at “deterring future Iranian attack plans” as well as a response to a rocket attack at the K1 military base near Kirkuk, Iraq on December 27. That attack killed one U.S. military contractor and lightly wounded several U.S. soldiers and Iraqi military personnel.
Yet, the details of that attack — even per mainstream U.S. sources that often support U.S. militarism — are incredibly murky, and the name of the American killed and the identity of the company he or she was working for have not been released. Some media reports have referred to the contractor as a “Pentagon contractor” while others have used the term “civilian contractor,” leading some to speculate that the contractor might have been a private mercenary in the employ of the Pentagon.’