“When the Iranian people are upset with their government for blatantly lying about shooting down a plane, he should have taken the high road and send his condolences to the families. By seeming to make it about him, he de-legitimizes the protesters and allows the government to portray the protests as a U.S. plot.” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The U.S. airstrike that killed a prominent Iranian general in Baghdad raises tensions even higher between Tehran and Washington, after months of trading attacks and threats across the wider Middle East. How Iran will respond remains in question as well, though its supreme leader warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for those who killed Revolutionary Guard Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani early Friday morning. That could include anything, from challenging U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, firing ballistic missiles or deploying the asymmetrical proxy forces Iran has cultivated to cover for its long-sanctioned conventional forces. Soleimani’s death is the latest in a series of escalating incidents traces back to President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw America from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. However, overall enmity between Iran and the U.S. date back to its 1979 Islamic Revolution, as well as a 1953 U.S.-backed coup in Tehran that cemented the power of its ruling shah over an elected prime minister. Here’s where things stand now: THE GENERAL’S KILLING A U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s international airport killed Soleimani, 62, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, and five others. The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week. Soleimani led the