According to an unnamed senior U.S. official, sometime after the bombing of Kata'ib Hezbollah in late December 2019, a security briefing was convened at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate where he and his advisors, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Mark Milley discussed how to respond to Iran's alleged role in sponsoring anti-U.S. attacks in Iraq. Reportedly, the targeted killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, whom U.S. officials regarded as a facilitator of attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq, was listed as the "most extreme option" of many options on a briefing slide, reflecting an alleged practice among Pentagon officials whereby a very extreme option is presented to presidents so as to make other options appear more palatable. Trump chose the option to kill Soleimani. The president's order prompted the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies that have tracked Soleimani's whereabouts for years to locate him on a flight from Damascus to Baghdad, reportedly to hold meetings with Iraqi militiamen. The air strike would have been called off if Soleimani had been on his way to meet with Iraqi government officials aligned with the U.S.
The modern Middle East has seen a number of occasions in which the assassination of high-level government and military figures was attempted, or at least considered. Such instances include United States air raids targeting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 1986 and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 1991, 1998, and 2003, in addition to successful missions to kill non-state terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Governments conducting assassinations of foreign leaders was largely frowned upon in prior centuries, but that norm has been weakening over time, especially since World War II. The effectiveness of anti-terrorist "leadership targeting" has become a subject of scholarly debate, especially with regard to whether such killings are actually beneficial to a country's foreign policy goals. In the wake of the strike against Soleimani, both the topic of further eroding norms and questions regarding effectiveness were raised. The costs and benefits of foreign policy assassinations are difficult to compute, and decisions to go ahead with such actions often reflect the vague, and not always realized, hope that any successor to the targeted person will be less capable against, or will embody policies more favorable toward, the country taking the action.More Info
Some photovoltaic systems, such as rooftop installations, can supply power directly to an electricity user. In these cases, the installation can be competitive when the output cost matches the price at which the user pays for his electricity consumption. This situation is sometimes called 'retail grid parity', 'socket parity' or 'dynamic grid parity'. Research carried out by UN-Energy in 2012 suggests areas of sunny countries with high electricity prices, such as Italy, Spain and Australia, and areas using diesel generators, have reached retail grid parity.More Info
Soleimani's killing sharply escalated tensions between the U.S. and Iran and stoked fears of a military conflict. Iranian leaders vowed revenge, while U.S. officials said they would preemptively attack any Iran-backed paramilitary groups in Iraq that they perceived as a threat. Many in the international community reacted with concern and issued statements or declarations urging restraint and diplomacy. Five days after the airstrike, Iran launched a series of missile attacks on U.S. forces based in Iraq, the first direct engagement between Iran and the U.S. since the naval battle precipitating the Vincennes incident on 3 July 1988. Following the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 amidst the escalation, leaders from both countries seemed reluctant to further escalate the crisis.More Info
According to a report by NBC News, Eric Edelman, a career foreign services officer with senior diplomatic posts at the time, U.S. commander Army Gen. George Casey considered designating Soleimani and Quds Force officers enemy combatants, thus making them subject to military action. However, the idea was ruled out over concerns of opening a "new front" in the war. Edelman stated, "There were a lot of us who thought he should be taken out. But at the end of the day, they decided not to do that," due to concern of starting simultaneous conflict with Iran.More Info
In early October 2019, according to two Iraqi militia commanders and two security sources who spoke with Reuters staff, Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani met in Baghdad to discuss a change in strategy with Iraqi Shiite militia allies. The new focus of strategy was to be an increase in targeted rocket attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, with the intended effect of provoking an antagonistic U.S. military response that would divert political pressure from Iran. Leading up to the meeting, there had been increasing anti-Iran sentiment amongst the local Iraqi population, culminating in prolonged and vocal anti-Iran protests, even featuring such specific displays of anti-Iran sentiment as demonstrators banging their shoes on raised portraits of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran, concerned about losing hard won influence in Iraq, had resorted to increasingly violent means to counter this resentment. These means, under direct guidance of Soleimani, resulted in the deaths of at least 400 protestors, with an estimated 20,000 wounded, but without significant success. The next step in the strategy chosen by Soleimani was to step up attacks on U.S. forces. Kataib Hezbollah was picked because, according to Soleimani it "would be difficult to detect by the Americans", as well as be able to utilize Iran-provided scout drones for more precision in target selection for the rocket attacks.More Info
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