Killing Qassem Suleimani Showed Iraqis That He Was Not Invincible

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of America’s killing of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Islamic Republic’s expeditionary Quds Force, who for many years directed the network of militias and terrorist groups that have wreaked havoc and destruction throughout the Middle East. Two weeks ago, Iran-backed forces fired a barrage of rockets that landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and Israel and the U.S. have placed their forces on high alert in anticipation of a more dramatic attempt by Tehran to exact revenge. Recalling her own stunned response to the news of Suleimani’s death, and that of her fellow Iraqis, Rasha Al Aqeedi writes:

[T]hose with no personal experience living at the mercy of tyranny struggle to comprehend the perception of invincibility that some leaders create in the minds of those over whom they rule. The disbelief over the death of tyrants is unrelated to our personal feelings towards them. It isn’t a form of political Stockholm syndrome; it stems from a perception of almightiness built by those who dictate every aspect of our lives. Their actions decide the fate of millions and the outcome, however brutal, does not harm their authority.

Suleimani saved a collapsing Syrian regime, prolonging [that country’s civil] war, giving sectarian succor to Islamic State’s genocidal propaganda, and corralling the wretched of the earth, from Afghan children to Syria’s Alawite poor, into fighting on behalf of his expansionist project.

The ancient kings and pharaohs believed in, and lived by, their own immortality, which permitted them to rule by unmitigated savagery, free from even lip service to humane rules of war. Modern-day tyrannies count on three things. First, the inaction and indifference of an international community that has mastered the phrase “gravely concerned” and shown an unwillingness to do much else. Second, a rising Western consensus which holds that dictators must be coddled and appeased lest their downfall produce unintended consequences. Third, deception: the transformation of their own atrocities into heroic military victories.

Men like Soleimani have to be removed before the agony and destruction they’ve caused can ever be righted.

Read more at Newlines

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy