IRAQ has debunked the US line that the recently-assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was planning imminent attacks against Americans pointing out that he was in Baghdad to broker a peace deal.
In a development that has sparked off global tension, the US carried out air strikes against Bagdad International Airport last Friday, under the instructions of President Donald Trump. Iran has promised to avenge the general’s death, with the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that severe revenge awaits the criminals behind the attack.
Iran has announced three days of national mourning and a bounty of $80m has been put on the head of President Trump, escalating tension worldwide. According to Washington, General Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US interests when it assassinated him, with secretary of state Mike Pompeo saying that the US had made an intelligence-based assessment that he was actively planning to attack American interests before he was killed.
President Trump justified the decision in even more explicit language, declaring that General Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US diplomatic facilities and personnel across the Middle East. However, this version of events has been debunked by Iraq, with Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, saying he had planned to meet General Soleimani on the morning of the day he was killed to discuss a diplomatic rapprochement that Iraq was brokering between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Mr Abdul-Mahdi added that President Trump personally thanked him for the efforts, even as he was planning the hit on General Soleimani. According to the prime minister, this message from President Trump helped create the impression that the Iranian general was safe to travel to Baghdad.
He added: “General Soleimani had arrived in Baghdad not to plan attacks on American targets but to coordinate de-escalation with Saudi Arabia. Indeed, he was killed while on an actual peace mission that could have created political distance between the Gulf monarchy and members of the US-led anti-Iran axis like Israel.”
General Soleimani’s assassination is being compared with the Obama administration’s 2016 killing of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur, a Taliban leader who was eager to negotiate a peaceful end to the US occupation of Afghanistan. Mullah Mansur’s death wound up empowering hardline figures in the Taliban who favoured a total military victory over the US and led to intensified fighting.
Since General Soleimani’s assassination, Iraq’s parliament has voted to expel all US troops from the country and Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sworn to exact a severe revenge on those he describes as the criminals who have stained their hands with Soleimani’s and the other martyrs’ blood. President Trump, for his part, tweeted a litany of threats, promising to destroy Iranian cultural sites if it retaliated and pledged to sanction Iraq like they have never been before if it ousted US troops.