Tag: General Soleimani


In lieu of Facebook and Instagram, the US and Iran are now fighting on Chinese social media


China

The world has been on alert since the United States killed Iran’s revered military general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad earlier this month.

Key points:

  • Iran and American embassies in China have been sparring on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform
  • Various Chinese users have cheered and condemned Iran in equal measure
  • Facebook and Instagram are removing pro-Iranian content, owing to US sanctions

For the moment, it appears as though Tehran and Washington will not be coming to armed blows in the immediate term, but that has not stopped the countries from trading barbs in the virtual sphere — in places largely unexpected.

In recent days, tensions between the US and Iran have been playing out on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform available to Chinese citizens.

“The end of the evil forces of the United States in Western Asia has begun,” read one Weibo post from the Iranian embassy in China.



Photo:

This Iranian Weibo post gives a visual nod to a tweet from President Donald Trump featuring the US flag.
(Weibo: Iranian embassy in China)

“Qassem Soleimani has been supporting terrorism and inciting sectarian violence for decades, resulting in thousands of deaths … and supplying arms to militants acting for the Iranian regime in six countries, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and Afghanistan,” reads the US embassy’s Weibo post in reply.

The US embassy also released posts claiming that General Soleimani was responsible for “exporting” terrorism and sectarian violence, “killing thousands”.

It has also released posts quoting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has praised US President Donald Trump for the decision to kill the Iranian general.

Why the killing of General Soleimani is such a big deal
The death of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is a watershed moment, even in the long and bloody history of Middle East conflict.

In parallel moves, the Iranian embassy released Weibo posts quoting Iranian officials on the tensions, including the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“If the United States retaliates against [Iranian forces], it will surely get the strongest retaliation,” another Weibo post from the Iranian embassy read.

The Iranian embassy has also been taking screenshots of tweets from its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and reposting them on Weibo with Chinese translations.

Major Western online platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are blocked from the Chinese internet, however, some users are able to get around this with the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).

Instagram wipes pro-Soleimani views, while Weibo doesn’t


Video: Mr Trump's imposition of sanctions on Iran have had implications for US social media giants.

(ABC News)

Like everywhere else on the Chinese internet, content on Weibo is heavily censored by censors who take down information deemed critical of the ruling Communist regime, such as details about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre or the global condemnation of Beijing’s internment of Uyghur Muslims.

But presently, it appears as though China’s censors are letting Iran and the US go at each other in full view of the Chinese internet — a situation that is ironically, not mirrored on some US social media platforms.

Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, told CNN on Friday that it would be censoring posts that voice support for General Soleimani to comply with US sanctions, in addition to posts that voice support for Iranians currently under American sanctions.

Various Iranian officials and industrial sectors of the country are currently subject to US sanctions, which were intensified after Iran’s missile strikes on US military assets in Iraq.

External Link:

@AliRabiei_ir tweet: In an undemocratic and unashmed action,Instagram has blocked an innocence nations' voice protesting to the assesination ofGeneral #Soleimani,while the real terrorists have been given an open voice.The stick behind the democracy and media freedom is displayed in the nick of time

In April, Instagram suspended General Soleimani’s account after Washington designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organisation.

Instagram is one of the few Western social media platforms allowed on Iran’s state-censored internet, though users can access Facebook and Twitter through VPNs.

But in recent weeks, it has become clear that Instagram has removed major Iranian accounts, rather than just individual posts.

External Link:

@maasalan tweet: IRGC affiliated Tasnim News Agency ( @Tasnimnews_Fa ) has its Instagram profile removed following Soleimani’s assassination. Unclear if because of Soleimani’s terrorist designation and their coverage of him. Semi-official @FarsNews_Agency remains live, with commemorative posts.

Consequently, numerous Iranian journalists, human rights activists, news organisations and influencers have seen their accounts shut down in recent weeks, according to Coda, an investigative journalism website.

“Every person I saw that posted about Soleimani on Instagram, almost all of their posts have been removed,” Amir Rashidi, an Iranian internet security and digital rights researcher, told Coda.

“The only platform where we could freely express ourselves was Instagram … And now Instagram is censoring us.”

Irony of US and Iran taking to Weibo has not been lost



Photo:

The US has used a number of Weibo posts to criticise the legacy of Iran’s Soleimani. (Weibo: US embassy in China)

Among Chinese social media observers, the online tiff between the Iranian and American embassies has been dubbed “the battle over Liangma Bridge”, as the respective embassies are about 1.5 kilometres apart, separated by the Liangma River in central Beijing.

Under the embassies’ respective posts, there are a variety of views reflected.

On Wechat, I’ll be a silent observer
WeChat is a central part of life in China, used for almost everything from transferring money to booking hotels. But now that I know my private messages are being censored, I am considering quitting.

“Where there is oppression, there is resistance. Great Iranian people, add oil! To expel the fascist America from West Asia!” one Weibo user, Liu Yan Fei Yu, wrote.

Weibo users who wrote posts in support of Iran received a special shout-out last Thursday.

“At this very moment, we deeply feel the warmth from the messages from Chinese netizens,” the post read.

However, Chinese users who were praised for submitting pro-Iranian views last week had shifted their tone, after it was revealed a missile fired by the Islamic Republic struck a Ukrainian commercial airliner, killing all 176 people onboard.

“Iran, an evil country, is a threat to all mankind if it stays on the Earth,” wrote another user.

“If it strikes the United States, it will also notify in advance, but it will strike the flight with their own people in it for real!”

Presently, it is unclear if these Beijing embassies will be drawn into more virtual sparring, but in Iran’s case, Chinese social media might be one of the few places the Islamic Republic might have left to state its case abroad.

External Link:

@DabuekDumbrill tweet: Twitter banned the president of Syria and an Iranian leader. Now an Iranian & American ambassador are arguing with each other on Weibo… In Chinese. The Chinese internet has become the most uncensored environment for international political discussions. #irony

On Saturday, the Weibo account of Iran’s embassy in China said Iran reserved “the right to take further appropriate countermeasures” against Washington, and would “continue to maintain communication and coordination with partners in and outside the region, especially with China”.

For other Weibo users, the irony of Chinese social media — and the Chinese language — becoming the place for an online US-Iran fight, has not been lost.

“Here’s the world’s largest imperialist country and the world’s largest theocratic republic, on a social media platform of the world’s largest socialist nation, using Standard Chinese to engage in a fierce diplomatic fight,” another user wrote.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Iran has retaliated against the US. Here’s what you need to know


Iraq

Iran has launched strikes against US troops in Iraq.

If you’re not sure exactly what’s going on, or why this is happening, this is the perfect place to start.

Let’s get you up to speed and answer five quick questions about the situation.

1. What has happened?

Iran has confirmed it launched “tens” of surface-to-surface missiles at two military bases — Al Asad and Irbil in Iraq — that house US troops.

The Pentagon says the bases came under fire from “at least a dozen ballistic missiles” and it was clear the missiles were launched from Iran.

The US and Iraq both confirmed their forces did not suffer casualties from the strikes. Germany, Denmark, Norway and Poland also said none of their troops in Iraq were hurt.



Photo:

The Erbil and Al Asad airbases were hit in the attacks. (ABC News)

2. Why has this happened?

On January 4, the United States killed Iran’s most powerful military general, Qassem Soleimani, by firing three missiles at Baghdad airport.

General Soleimani was the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force and responsible for many of the nation’s proxy wars in the Middle East.



Photo:

The death of Major-General Qassem Soleimani sent shockwaves around the world. (News Video)

In a statement after the attack, the Pentagon said the strike was aimed at “deterring future Iranian attack plans” and it carried out the attack to “protect US personnel abroad”.

For context, academic Ranj Alaaldin described the attack as “bigger than taking out Osama bin Laden”.

On Tuesday millions of people attended funerals for General Soleimani, the first time Iran honoured a single person with a multi-city ceremony.

Go deeper: The ABC’s Matt Brown has a long look at the importance of General Soleimani, and the “watershed moment” of his death, in this piece here.

3. Is this actually the start of World War III?

It’s far too early to tell what might happen next, despite #WorldWarThree trending on social media in the days since the US killed General Soleimani.

Journalist with Al Jazeera based in Doha, and a former global affairs and Indigenous affairs analyst for the ABC, Stan Grant, wrote that Iran was dwarfed by the United States by any measure.

“Its population is a quarter the size of America’s, its economy is barely 2 per cent as large. Its outdated weapons are no match for the most powerful military force the world has ever known,” he wrote.

There are many moving parts to this story that are yet to play out, but Grant writes that World War III will look vastly different to World War I and II.

“A look around the world tells us we may already be in it,” he writes.

Get the full picture: You can read his full analysis of the situation here.

4. Are any Australians involved?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all Australian Defence Force and diplomatic personnel in Iraq were safe.

Mr Morrison said the Australian Government was monitoring the situation as it unfolds.

Australia’s National Security Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, but Mr Morrison said it would meet earlier if needed.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said he had received a briefing on the situation from the Prime Minister, and said Australians were “located very close to where the Americans are located in the area”.

“They’re just next door,” Mr Albanese said.

5. What will happen next?

The frustrating answer is — we just don’t know. And we can’t do much but wait.

All eyes now turn back to the United States.


Video: President Donald Trump said he would ask NATO to become more involved in the Middle East

(ABC News)

At a news conference, President Donald Trump said Iran appeared to be “standing down” and declared the US would impose further economic sanctions on the Iranian regime.

“The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent,” he said.

He added that Americans should be “extremely grateful and happy” with the outcome.

Crucially, Mr Trump stopped short of making any more threats of military actions.

Read more about the tensions between the US and Iran:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Killing of Iranian general should have happened ‘years ago’, Donald Trump says


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

In his first comments since the surprise assassination of one of Iran’s top military generals, United States President Donald Trump says Qassem Soleimani should have been taken out “many years ago”.

Key points:

  • Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US strike in Baghdad on Friday
  • Mr Trump said the Iranian general was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans
  • A UN human rights expert has called on the body to investigate the killing

On Friday, the Pentagon confirmed the killing in Baghdad of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East.

The US carried out another air strike on Iran-backed militia in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least five people according to officials.

The White House said in a tweet that General Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.

Why the killing of General Soleimani is such a big deal
The death of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is a watershed moment, even in the long and bloody history of Middle East conflict.

The US also maintains that General Soleimani was responsible for multiple attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the past several months.

In a series of tweets, Mr Trump claimed General Soleimani was responsible for killing and wounding “thousands” of Americans, and was “directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people” without further elaboration.

“While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country,” he wrote.

“They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!”

External Link:

@realdonaldtrump tweet: ….of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself. While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!

The US strike has provoked fears of retaliation against the US from Tehran and its allies in the Middle East.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD was increasing security at critical infrastructure points throughout the city.

“Our world changed last night,” he said.

“We are now potentially facing a threat that’s different and greater than anything we have faced previously.

“Over the last 20 years, this city, more than any other, has suffered the results of terrorism.”

“We’re in, at this point, a de facto state of war between the United States of America and Iran.”

Why America and Iran hate each other
They haven’t had formal diplomatic relations for decades, and at times appear on the brink of war. But why?

Officials said there is no specific, credible threat against New York City at this time, but that the city remains the top terror target in the country.

Hours after the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the US embassy in Baghdad urged all its citizens to leave Iraq immediately.

On Friday, US citizens working for foreign oil companies in the southern Iraqi city of Basra evacuated the country, the oil ministry said.

The Pentagon took steps to reinforce the American military presence in the Middle East in preparation for reprisals from Iran.

The US is sending nearly 3,000 more troops to the Middle East ordered by Mr Trump, defence officials said.

In Iran, a hard-line adviser to the country’s supreme leader who led Friday prayers in Tehran likened US troops in Iraq to “insidious beasts” and said they should be swept from the region.

“I am telling Americans, especially Trump, we will take a revenge that will change their daylight into a night-time darkness,” said the cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami.

‘A more dangerous world’


Video: Video released on Friday showed the aftermath of the strike on Qassem Soleimani.

(ABC News)

When asked about the strike, France’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, told RTL radio that “military escalation is always dangerous”.

“We are waking up in a more dangerous world,” she said.

She indicated that urgent reconciliation efforts were being launched behind the scenes.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister were reaching out to “all the actors in the region,” she said.

Russia and China expressed similar concerns, with both states warning about the strike’s escalation of tensions.



Photo:

Soleimani’s killing triggered several anti-US protests in Indian-controlled Kashmir. (AP: Mukhtar Khan)

However, the United Kingdom and Germany have expressed their qualified understanding for the US strike.

German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer described the strike as “a reaction to a whole series of military provocations for which Iran bears responsibility,” pointing to attacks on tankers and a Saudi oil facility, among other events.

“We are at a dangerous escalation point and what matters now is contributing with prudence and restraint to de-escalation,” she said.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “We have always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qassem Soleimani.”

“Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate,” he said. “Further conflict is in none of our interests.”

Attack ‘most likely violates human rights law’



Photo:

Agnes Callamard has called on the UN to investigate the US’s unilateral strike. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions wrote on Twitter that the Trump administration’s actions were “most likely unlawful and violate international human rights law”.

“To be justified under international human rights law, intentionally lethal or potentially lethal force can only be used where strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life,” she wrote.

“In other words, whoever targeted these two men would need to demonstrate that the persons targeted constituted an imminent threat to others.

“An individual’s past involvement in ‘terrorist’ attacks is not sufficient to make his targeting for killing lawful.”

How likely is a US-Iran conflict? US-Iran tensions are on the rise. Here’s what that could mean for Australia, the region and world oil prices.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed yesterday that General Soleimani was planning an “imminent attack” without giving further details.

“He was actively plotting in the region to take actions — a big action as he described it — that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent,” Mr Pompeo told CNN.

However, Dr Callamard said claims of self-defence were “unlikely” to meet the test of legal extrajudicial killing as “the test for so-called anticipatory self-defence is very narrow: it must be a necessity that is ‘instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation’.”

External Link:

@AgnesCallamard tweet: The statement fails to mention the other individuals killed alongside Suleimani. Collateral? Probably. Unlawful. Absolutely.

She has called on the UN to use its muscle to investigate Washington’s actions.

A UN spokesperson said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply concerned with the recent escalation”.

“This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint. The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf,” the spokesperson said.

External Link:

@AgnesCallamard tweet: There is no more pressing time for the #UN and its leadership to step up than now. But this statement does not bode well. You have the legal tools and the platform. Please use them. @UN @antonioguterres #WWIII

ABC/wires

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Here’s why the US killing Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is such a big deal


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

The death of Major General Qassem Soleimani is a watershed moment, even in the long and bloody history of Middle East conflict.

Key points:

  • The US says Soleimani and his Quds Force were “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members”
  • Soleimani led Iran’s overseas actions in the last couple of decades
  • Killing him will take US tensions with Iran to a dangerous new level

The head of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, he has long been seen by Israel and the United States as one of the most dangerous and potent figures in the region.

Qassem Soleimani had the backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and a hero to many Shiite Muslims.

However, he was also popular or at least respected in many quarters of the Middle East.

In a region where inept, corrupt or hypocritical leaders abound, he was seen by his supporters as charismatic and, most importantly, effective.

External Link:

Twitter Sophie McNeill: HUGE HUGE news out of the Middle East. The US has just assassinated arguably what is Iran’s most important military leader.

He was responsible for running foreign military actions, coordinating a network of political and military advisers, militias and terrorist groups which have delivered Iran a decisive role stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.

Killing him takes the Trump administration’s confrontation with Iran to a dangerous new level.

General Soleimani fought for Iran in the Iran-Iraq war, reportedly leading reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines.

Back then, the US backed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in its confrontation with the new Islamic republic of Iran and the Islamic revolutionaries who had deposed the Shah.

General Soleimani and his colleagues in the Iranian military built their strength in the region, supporting a range of tactics including terror attacks and also arming and training groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, which grew amidst the chaos of the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli occupation and has come to hold sway over much of the country.



Photo:

Qassem Soleimani had the backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Wikimedia Commons: Khamenei.ir)

But it was when the US and some allies, including Australia, toppled Saddam Hussein and invaded Iraq in 2003, that General Soleimani was presented with an historic opportunity to exert, then consolidate, unprecedented Iranian influence in Baghdad.

Iraqi dissidents and militiamen who’d been given refuge in Iran moved back into Baghdad and General Soleimani and his colleagues trained and armed new and old allies alike to launch attacks on US troops.

Underlining the significance of this period, when the US Department of Defence claimed responsibility for his killing, it accused General Soleimani and his Quds Force of being “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”

The most volatile point in the Iran conflict


Video: Counter-terror expert says Iran is pushing itself into war by playing 'hardball'.

(ABC News)

The US imposed sanctions on General Soleimani in 2011, accusing him of a plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington.

But he would soon be delivered another opportunity by the instability wracking the region when Syria began to descend into civil war that same year.

General Soleimani spearheaded Iran’s efforts to shore up the government of Bashar al-Assad.

How likely is a US-Iran conflict? US-Iran tensions are on the rise. Here’s what that could mean for Australia, the region and world oil prices.

Then, when that conflict gave the Sunni Muslim extremists of the Islamic State (IS) group the chance to conquer vast tracts of territory, first in Syria and then across the border in Iraq, General Soleimani’s militias played a key role in the fightback against IS.

In an extraordinary irony, they benefited from the US air strikes that played such a crucial role in defeating the terror group, and consolidated their grip on much of the country.

It was, however, always a begrudging, parallel effort and we are now witnessing the most volatile point in a conflict that has been slowly reigniting for some time.

Soleimani ‘approved the attack on US embassy’



Photo:

Protesters and militia fighters gather outside the main gate of the US embassy. (Reuters: Thaier al-Sudani)

The US Department of Defence accused General Soleimani of orchestrating, “attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months — including the attack on December 27th — culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.”

“General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” it said in a statement.

In the December 27 incident, a US civilian contractor was killed during a rocket attack on a US military base in northern Iraq.

The US military retaliated by carrying out air strikes against Iranian-linked militia fighters in Iraq and Syria. This in turn led to hundreds of pro-Iranian protesters and militia attempting to storm the US embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve.


Video: Qassem Soleimani killed in an apparent United States missile strike

(ABC News)

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif called the killing “an extremely dangerous and foolish escalation,” and a former commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohasen Rezaei, vowed “vigorous revenge on America”.

The son of a farmer, from a poor area in eastern Iran, Qassem Soleimani was softly spoken, calculating and lethal, leaving an extraordinary mark on a region accustomed to the failings of big men with big mouths.

When news of his death was announced in Baghdad, some protesters, who had been on the streets opposing Iranian influence, celebrated.

But the revenge promised by his supporters could come on any of the many fronts where he has built Iran’s power and influence.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


‘Vigorous revenge’ vowed against US after it kills head of elite Quds Force in air strike


United States

The United States killed Iran’s most powerful general in an air strike at Baghdad’s international airport on Friday, on the direct orders of President Donald Trump.

Key points:

  • The Pentagon says the strike was carried out to deter future attacks
  • A former Iran Revolutionary Guard chief has vowed “vigorous revenge on America”
  • The attack takes the US confrontation with Iran to a dangerous new level

The Pentagon confirmed the death of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East.

Why the killing of General Soleimani is such a big deal
The death of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is a watershed moment, even in the long and bloody history of Middle East conflict.

Major-General Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in the strike on their convoy near the Baghdad airport, an Iraqi militia spokesman told Reuters.

“The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani,” said Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces umbrella grouping of Iran-backed militias.

Three missiles hit the Baghdad airport, killing five members of Iraqi paramilitary groups and two “guests”, Iraqi paramilitary groups said. The rockets landed near the air cargo terminal, burning two vehicles.

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

It said the military took “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani” and that it considered the Quds Force to be a foreign terrorist organisation.


Video: Video posted to Twitter by Ehab Al Obaidy appears to show the fiery aftermath of US air strikes near Baghdad's international airport (Photo: AP)

(ABC News)

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” it said.

“General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.

Explaining the strike in self-defence terms was also echoed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Soleimani was planning an “imminent attack”.

“He was actively plotting in the region to take actions — a big action as he described it — that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent,” Mr Pompeo told CNN.

External Link:

@SecPompeo tweet: Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more.

He added that the United States has fortified its assets in the region and is prepared for any possible retaliation, including a cyber attack.

The US maintains that Soleimani was responsible for multiple attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months, including one on December 27 in which a US civilian contractor and Iraqi personnel were killed during a rocket attack on a military base in northern Iraq.

The US military retaliated by carrying out air strikes against Iranian-linked militia fighters in Iraq and Syria.

This in turn led to hundreds of pro-Iranian protesters and militia attempting to storm the US embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve.

Mr Trump tweeted a photo of the American flag without explanation just moments before the US claimed responsibility for the air strike.

“Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” Mr Trump later tweeted.

‘This is bigger than taking out bin Laden’



Photo:

The Pentagon said Qassem Soleimani had approved attacks on US assets. (AP: Ebrahim Noroozi, file)

A former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaei, vowed “vigorous revenge” against America for the killing of General Soleimani, describing him as a “martyr”.

“Martyr Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani joined his martyred brothers, but we will take vigorous revenge on America,” Mr Rezaei said in a post on Twitter.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the assassination would strengthen resistance against the US and Israel in the region and the world, Iranian state television reported.

“The brutality and stupidity of American terrorist forces in assassinating Commander Soleimani … will undoubtedly make the tree of resistance in the region and the world more prosperous,” Mr Zarif said in a statement.

External Link:

Twitter Ranj Alaaldin: Make no mistake – this is bigger than taking out Osama bin Laden.

Academic Ranj Alaaldin, author of Sacred Warriors, a recent book on Shiite militias and the future of Iraq, said on Twitter that the significance of the hit could not be overstated.

“Make no mistake — this is bigger than taking out Osama bin Laden,” he wrote.

General Soleimani, who was responsible for coordinating foreign military actions, survived several assassination attempts against him by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies over the past two decades.



Photo:

Tensions remain between US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (AP/Reuters)

Earlier this week, top Iraqi militia commander al-Muhandis, also known as Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, warned of a strong reaction against US forces following air strikes.

“The blood of the martyrs will not be in vain and our response will be very tough on the American forces in Iraq,” he said.

Trump ‘tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox’



Photo:

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Mr Trump has “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox“. (AP: Frank Franklin II)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Trump administration conducted the airstrike without consulting Congress or having any authorisation to use military force against Iran.

She said the move “risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Mr Trump had “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox”.

The former vice-president joined other Democratic White House hopefuls in criticising Mr Trump’s order, saying it could leave the US “on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East.”

Democrats also acknowledged the threat formerly posed by General Soleimani, with Senator Elizabeth Warren calling him “a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.”

However she added, Mr Trump’s “reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict.”

Western citizens urged to leave Iraq ‘immediately’



Photo:

Protests against the US have erupted across Iraq over the past week. (Reuters: Khalid al-Mousily)

The US is now urging citizens to leave Iraq “immediately”, citing “heightened tensions in Iraq and the region”.

“Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the US Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. US citizens should not approach the Embassy,” the US State Department said in a statement.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has issued similar advice, urging Australians in the country to “leave Iraq as soon as possible” if it is safe to do so.

It noted that “the security situation could worsen with little warning”, and has warned of a “very high risk of violence, armed conflict, kidnapping, and terrorist attack”.

The BBC also reports that Dutch nationals have been advised to leave Baghdad.

The ABC has approached Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne for comment.

ABC/wires

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news