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  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pray near the coffin of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran, January 6, 2020.

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pray near the coffin of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran, January 6, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 January 2020

Since Qassem Soleimani's assassination, Iraq has been turned into a battlefield for the regional ambitions of the United States and Iran.

On January 3rd, the United States carried out the assassination of Iran's Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, near the Baghdad International Airport. 

RELATED:

Trump Signed Off on Soleimani's Assassination in June

The U.S.' assassination of this high-ranking Iranian military commander would create shockwaves across the Middle East, as the killing of Soleimani would see a sequence of events to follow the Trump administration's move. 

What Led to the Assassination?

A special report from NBC last week revealed that the U.S.' assassination of Soleimani was reportedly green-lighted by the Trump administration in June 2019, which followed the downing of a U.S. drone near the Strait of Hormuz by Iran. 

However, the assassination did not come out of the blue, as there were a number of events that led to the U.S.' attack on the night of January 3rd. 

In late December, a few rockets were fired at an Iraqi base by an unknown group, which resulted in the death of an Iraqi-American contractor. On that same night, the Islamic State also launched an attack on the largest U.S. base inside Syria. 

The U.S. administration accused the Iranian-backed forces in Iraq of being behind the attack that killed the Iraqi-American contractor. 

Shortly after the killing of the contractor, the U.S. launched a big attack on five bases belonging to the Iranian-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah forces in Iraq and Syria. This attack would result in the death of over 30 members of Kata'ib Hezbollah. 

The U.S. strikes on Kata'ib Hezbollah's positions were viewed as an attack on Iraq's sovereignty and a group that fought the Islamic State under the state-supported Popular Mobilization Forces. 

In response to this attack by the U.S., hundreds of angry protesters began demonstrating outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, with some even pushing as far as the walls of the main building. 

U.S. President Donald Trump heavily critized these protesters and accused Iran of being behind these demonstrations, which the Islamic Republic denied. 

Not long after the demonstrations, Qassem Soleimani traveled from Damascus to Baghdad when his convoy was attacked by the U.S. along the highway that led the airport. He was killed alongside the Deputy Head of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandis, and several other officials. 

Aftermath

The assassination of Qassem Soleimani led to a sequence of events that would greatly affect the U.S.' future inside of Iraq. 

The first move happened on January 5th, when the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel all foreign forces from their country, a decision that was heavily influenced by the U.S.' actions. 

A few days after the Iraqi Parliament's vote, the three-day-long funeral procession for Qassem Soleimani began in Iran. This would see millions of Iranians in the streets as they bid farewell to the Quds Force commander. 

On the final day of the funeral procession, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards launched several missiles towards two Iraqi bases that host the U.S. forces. In total, the IRGC fired 22 missiles at the U.S. forces, with 17 of them targeting the Ain Al-Assad Airbase in western Iraq. 

Sadly, on the night of Iran's response, their IRGC forces accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner that was scheduled to leave Tehran. Over 170 people were killed as a result of this accidental attack by the IRGC forces. 

A day after the attack, Trump released a statement in which he condemned the Iranian attack and announced that he was imposing more sanctions against the Islamic Republic. 

What Now?

The U.S. administration's decision to assassinate Qassem Soleimani has further destabilized the Middle East, as tensions are at an all-time high between Washington and Tehran. 

The Iranian-backed forces in Iraq have become increasingly hostile towards the U.S., which could lead to further incidents inside the country. Iraq, which suffered immensely under the U.S. invasion in 2003, is now being used a battlefield between Iran and the United States. 

The U.K.'s ambassador was arrested for allegedly supporting and attending an anti-government demonstration. The British Foreign Secretary announced on January 15th that the ambassador has left Iran due to security issues. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has informed the United States that Baghdad wants their forces to leave the country. The U.S. State Department has already refused to leave Iraq. 

Making matters worse, Iran is refusing to any negotiations with the United States and threatening to restart their nuclear problem, which has prompted more threats from Washington. 

Trump's claims that the assassination of Soleimani has deescalated the situation is completely false. In fact, the Middle East is a more dangerous place and all hopes of peace between Washington and Tehran are dead, at least until a new administration comes to power in the U.S.

The war hawks in Washington got what they wanted by killing Soleimani and antagonizing Iran to the point where war is more likely than any future peace agreement. These war hawks have come out as the biggest winners of this assassination, while the rest of the world has to deal with the after effects of Trump's decision to trade peace for conflict.

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