Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said "the intelligence information I have seen, under the right to defend yourself against an imminent threat, that would have been met." A spokesman for Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said, "States have a right to take action such as this in self-defence." Johnson later said "... the strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine since it was not our operation", in response to Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn who called it an "illegal act" and asked for the government to condemn it.
Shortly after the attack, several planes with U.S. service members took off from bases in the eastern United States. The following day, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the deployment of 3,500 members of the 82nd Airborne Division to the region, one of the largest rapid deployments in decades. Defense officials said the deployment was not directly related to the airstrike which killed Soleimani, but was instead a "precautionary action in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities".More Info
Soleimani and al-Muhandis' deaths raised tensions between the U.S. and Iran. As stated by France 24, the targeted killing of Qasem Soleimani "caused alarm around the world, amid fears that Iranian retaliation against American interests in the region could spiral into a far larger conflict". The New York Times contrasted the attack to Operation Vengeance in World War II, when American pilots shot down the plane carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, which the paper said was "the last time the United States killed a major military leader in a foreign country".More Info
The sustained massive street protests in Iraq that led to Abdul-Mahdi's resignation as prime minister (and temporary caretaker role) restarted in the days after the assassination of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, with a shift in the focus of protests from mostly anti-Iran to criticism of both the U.S. and Iran. The "Made in Iraq" street and online protests strengthened in Baghdad following the assassination. Major protests took place on 5 January 2020 in many cities, "Made in Iraq" protests on 7 January, and two thousand protested in Basra and Nassiriyah on 10 January, with one of the slogans being "Neither America nor Iran, our revolution is a young revolution."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
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.More Info
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