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Hussein Askary: By assassinating General Soleimani in Iraq, Trump Administration has put the world into new uncharted waters

Hussein Askary is an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen. He is the Southwest Asia Coordinator of the International Schiller Institute. Askary has worked as an economic and strategic analyst on Southwest Asia and North and East Africa for the Washington-based weekly magazine Executive Intelligence Review since 1996. He is the co-author of several books on the New Silk Road strategy and its impact on the world economy.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Q1: The White House and the Pentagon claimed responsibility for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, saying the attack was carried out at the directives of US President Donald Trump. As you know, commander Soleimani was an international figure representing the Axis of Resistance.

Given the latest regional developments, how do you interpret the assassination?

Askary said: The assassination of General Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units commander, Abu Mahdi Almuhandis, is a major blunder and a setback for the potential of regaining peace and tranquility in the region after the defeat of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Even American intelligence experts and former intelligence officers such as Patrick Lang, Larry C. Johnson and Scott Ritter have all described it as such, and indicate that the U.S. Administration was and is not prepared for the consequences of this assassination. There is no strategy for how this new level of aggression can be ended without entering a major regional war, a war which President Trump still insists he has wanted to avoid. Therefore, any rational explanation is difficult to make out of this assassination. It is very likely that Trump was sucked into this reckless operation upon the pushing of neoconservative circles and pro-Zionist war mongering individuals and groups. These forces have been upset with the victories achieved in Syria and Iraq to clean the country from the U.S. and British-backed terrorist groups, and finally pave the way for the integration of the region into the Belt and Road Initiative / New Silk Road from China, through Central Asia and Iran to Iraq then Syria and the Mediterranean. President Bashar Al-Assad just two weeks ago declared that the Belt and Road Initiative is Syria’s way to reconstruction, and revealed that Syria has six strategic mega projects in this regard. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdel-Mahdi was in China in late September and signed many significant agreements to exchange oil for reconstruction of infrastructure. This was a revolutionary development. But as soon as he was back in Baghdad, the uprising against the government started, and the country entered a new spiral of violence and insecurity ever since.

Q2: According to many military experts, General Soleimani had a major role in fighting terrorist groups, particularly Daesh (ISIS or ISIL), in Iraq and Syria. What do you think about the top generals’ success in combating US-backed terrorism and its effect on his assassination?

Askary said: Soleimani’s personal role and that of the Quds Brigade in stopping and finally defeating Daesh in the region is undeniable even by Western experts. From June 2014, when Daesh took over Mosul, General Soleimani and Iranian forces reacted immediately to this dangerous development to stop Daesh from taking other parts of Iraq including Baghdad. The U.S.-trained Iraqi army suddenly vanished, and the U.S. forces in Iraq were just watching the advancement of Daesh and its allies. Without General Soleimani’s intervention along with the Fatwa of Ayatollah Sistani to mobilize the resistance to Daesh, Iraq would have been lost. Similarly in Syria, Iran’s support to the Syrian Arab Army, long before the Russian intervention, enabled Damascus to push back and finally defeat the Western-backed terrorist groups. General Soleimani’s role in coordinating the Russian intervention into Syria is well known. Therefore, his personal role has definitely played a role in the assassination. However, it is the regional developments that have proven that Western regime-change policies are useless, and the emergence of a new paradigm led by Russia, China and their allies such as Iran, which has upset the old world order, and could be a direct cause of this latest escalation.

Q3: In a statement on Friday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei warned that harsh revenge awaits the criminals behind the martyrdom of General Soleimani. Many critics believe that if Iran does not take revenge, it will lead to more attacks from the US. In your opinion, how severe would Tehran response be to “the terrorist act” by Washington and how can the response create deterrence against the US and its future moves in the region?

Askary said: This assassination by the Trump Administration has put the region and the world into new unchartered waters. Therefore, it is very difficult to predict the Iranian reaction and “revenge”. Military and intelligence experts know very well that Iran has many means of really hurting the U.S. and its allies in the region. Retired American intelligence officer Larry C Johnson wrote yesterday that “the reaction from Iran is likely to involve Saudi Arabia, Israel and U.S. military, diplomatic and economic targets.” But this is a road to bigger disasters. He also argued that Iran has developed a power cyber army that could do real damage to the U.S. infrastructure, which is very much reliant on internet networks. Besides, U.S. troops and interests in Iraq stand completely exposed and open for attacks. It is important to remember that it was Iraqi sovereignty which was breached, and Iraqi military commanders were killed along General Soleimani. The entirety of the U.S. presence and influence in Iraq is in question now.

However, the Iranian leadership has been exerting a great deal of calm and rationality in assessing its reactions to coercive U.S. moves in the recent two years. Of, course a more restrained reaction would be helpful. But that requires guarantees that such criminal operations will cease and the current U.S. policy towards Iran is reversed. Therefore, the Chairwoman of the International Schiller Institute, Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, called for Russia and China to intervene diplomatically to make sure that the U.S. realizes that that would be the right way of easing the tension and putting the whole region on the path of peace and security. Bringing the nations of the region into the Belt and Road Initiative is the key to the success of this effort. Hussein Askary concluded.


Haifaa  Mafalani