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
“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers, according to the Post. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforces that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”
The U.S. assessment, which has not been previously disclosed, concludes that either Russian private military contractors or Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army were operating the air defences at the time the drone was reported lost on Nov. 21, said Africa Command spokesman Air Force Colonel Christopher Karns.
China said Monday it will suspend U.S. military ship and aircraft visits to Hong Kong and sanction several American pro-democracy and human rights groups in retaliation for the signing into law of legislation supporting anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous territory. While the nature of the sanctions remained unclear, the move followed Chinese warnings that the U.S. would bear the costs if the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was approved. The steps are “in response to America’s unreasonable behavior,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing, adding that the legislation seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs. The law, signed last Wednesday by President Donald Trump, mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong. The legislation was backed by U.S. lawmakers who are sympathetic to the protesters and have criticized Hong Kong police for cracking down on the pro-democracy movement. Police say their use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other force is a necessary response to escalating violence by the protesters, who have blocked major roads and thrown gasoline bombs back at officers in riot gear. Hong Kong has been living with almost nonstop protests for six months. The movement’s demands include democratic elections and an investigation into the police response. More fundamentally, the protesters and others in Hong Kong fear that China is eroding the rights and freedoms they have under a “one country, two systems”
One of the most sought-after presidential endorsements in a key early voting state is from a woman who cannot vote. As Democrats jockey for support in Nevada, a meeting with Astrid Silva, a 31-year-old immigrant rights activist who has become a public face of the “Dreamers,” is a can’t-miss early stop. Silva has had dinner with Kamala Harris, policy roundtables with Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, and vegan tamales with Cory Booker. Just this week, after Pete Buttigieg noticed she attended Supreme Court arguments on the program shielding her from deportation, the candidate called to make sure she knew he supported her cause. “Presidential wannabes, when they come here —I don’t know a single one that hasn’t met with her,” said Harry Reid, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, who helped elevate Silva’s profile during his push for immigration reform. “There’s no question in my mind that candidates are well served to visit with her.” Silva’s busy calendar highlights the power of Latino voters in Nevada, the third state on Democrats’ primary calendar. The state has a large immigrant community, and Latinos account for roughly 19% of the electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. Many of those voters are Democrats, making Nevada’s contest a critical test of the candidates’ appeal among a group with rising political power in the party. While immigration has taken a back seat to health care and impeachment in the national primary debate, it remains on the forefront for Nevada Democrats, many of whom want