The media’s laser focus on President Trump in his decision to terminate Iran’s terror mastermind General Qassem Soleimani (what Trump was eating, options the military may or may not have presented, how this benefited/did not benefit Russia, etc. ad nauseam to defend the Orange Man Bad narrative) ignores one huge piece of the post-Soleimani puzzle. Iraq was already a lost cause and in Iran’s pocket.
Back in 2018, Iraqi politicians agreed to promote Adel Abdel Mahdi to be their Prime Minister. Mahdi was the choice of none other than General Qassem Soleimani. Here is what was written at the time in September, 2018:
The choice of Abdel Mahdi comes despite the fact that, according to sources close to the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the US envoy Brett McGurk “did everything in his power to discourage Iraqi politicians, Sunni, Shia, and Kurds, from adopting a candidate in harmony with Iran”.
The Trump administration allowed Iran’s man to become the top politician in Iraq, and failed to impose sanctions on Iraq, in order to maintain some relationship while dealing with the complicated Middle East relationships involving Iran, Iraq, Turkey, the Kurds, Russia, Syria, the Saudis, and of course, Israel.
It looks like the US won’t finally put pressure on Iraq, and it is unlikely that Trump will impose sanctions on the Iraqi government in November in parallel with the Iran sanctions set to begin in November. Trump, or rather his team, don’t want to lose Iraq completely to Iran and thus is expected to allow Iran to trade with Iraq (the trade exchange has reached $4bn and 165 million for the first six months this year). This is already a weakness in Trump’s plans for sanctions!
Now Mahdi has led his parliament to take the first steps to expel the U.S. from Iraqi territory, and could eventually lead to the end of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which requires a one-year notice for withdrawal.
The Iraqi parliament on Sunday called for the expulsion of US troops from the country in reaction to the American drone attack on Soleimani and a number of top Iraqi officials at the Baghdad airport, raising the prospect of a withdrawal that could allow a resurgence by Islamic State extremists.
Lawmakers approved a resolution asking the Iraqi government to end the agreement under which Washington sent forces more than four years ago to help in the fight against he Islamic State group.3 rockets hit near US embassy in Baghdad, The Times of Israel, January 5, 2020
On Saturday, three Katyusha rockets hit within the “Green Zone” in Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy (among other facilities) is located. A group called Kataeb Hezbollah had warned Iraqi security forces to “get away” from the area, though they did not claim responsibility. Kataeb Hezbollah is a pro-Iran group that is undoubtedly one of the now-dead Soleimani’s many terrorist fronts.
Before President Trump gave the order to eliminate General Soleimani, Iranian terror groups were operating with impunity–and near carte blanche–in Iraq. Iraq’s Prime Minister was Soleimani’s personal choice to run the county. Iraq was becoming–possibly had become–Iran’s puppet.
All of this happened after the U.S.-led coalition freed the Iraqis from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. All of this happened after President Obama withdrew American troops, letting the Iraqis handle their own affairs, which of course led the to a failed government and ISIS.
President Trump inherited a failed state propped up after a failed war of liberation that never really liberated anyone because nobody taught them how democracy works. That takes generations, and it’s only been just under 17 years since our troops rolled into Baghdad. Iraq was a lost cause the moment we left, and it’s a lost cause now, fully in the pocket of the Iranians.
That doesn’t mean Trump’s decision to eliminate Soleimani was wrong, or badly considered, or hasty. It means that we knew exactly what we were in for when the decision was made. And it may have been much, much worse to let the Iranian puppet-master live.
Let’s ignore the huffing and puffing of the media and former Obama acolytes like Susan Rice about the nuclear deal. That was a lost cause too. Iran had a strategy, to cheat, lie, murder, plot terror, and supply anti-American and anti-Israel front groups with sophisticated missiles, military training, and intelligence. They were pursuing that course with relentless efficiency.
Let’s ignore the whole “war crimes” argument too. Politicians like AOC would, and much of the media, would rather parrot Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s talking points than recognize that Trump’s threats are both necessary and the only language Iran understands.
Dealing with Iran was a lost cause ten years ago, and it remains so now–sanctions work, and a big stick works. Propping up Iraq has now become a lost cause also. The question remains whether we can get our troops out before it turns into another Saigon, or will we have to refight the 2003 war for a third time.
Let’s also ignore the whole “Trump did this to take the attention off his impeachment.” Maybe he did, but so what? People who don’t like Trump are going to believe it either way, and Trump supporters won’t change their position. It’s all a burning straw man and a distraction.
How President Trump handles the next six months may very well define his first term. Who is even going to remember that he’s in the middle of an impeachment?