Actions have Consequences
Despite Pompeo's assurances, we are already seeing consequences for the Suleimani killing.
I don’t even know where to start. In simple terms, the US President ordered the killing of an Iranian official without much thought beyond the immediate and now we are having to assess the ripples.
First, the Iraqi parliament has voted to remove US forces. Via the NYT: Iraqi Lawmakers Urge End U.S. Troop Presence as Iran Mourns a Slain General.
Lawmakers in Iraq voted on Sunday to require the government to end the presence of American troops in the country after the United States ordered the killing of the Iranian leader of the elite Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, on Iraqi soil.
The vote is not final until Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq signs the bill. But since he drafted the language and submitted the bill to Parliament, there was little doubt he would sign it.
The exact nature of the American presence if the bill is signed is vague, however:
The legislation threads a fine needle: While using strong language demanding that the government “end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil and prevent the use of Iraqi airspace, soil and water for any reason” by foreign forces, it gives no timetable for doing so.
It would end the mission approved in 2014 that gave the United States the explicit task of helping the Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State. That agreement gave the Americans substantial latitude to launch attacks and use Iraqi airspace. But the measure would leave in place the Strategic Framework Agreement, which allows an American troop presence in Iraq in some form.
It should be noted that this action is exacerbating internal divisions in Iraq:
Although the vote was 170-0 in Parliament, many of its 328 members, primarily Kurds and Sunnis, did not attend the session and did not vote, showing the division in Parliament on the demands to oust American troops. While groups that grew out of Shiite militia organizations have pushed hard for the expulsion, Sunni Muslim factions and the Kurds wanted the United States to stay.
This is not a healthy situation. Indeed, US actions have the real potential to deepen existing cleavages in Iraq and to push the Shiite majority deeper into Iranian orbit.
Second, also via the NYT, U.S.-Led Coalition Halts ISIS Fight as It Steels for Iranian Attacks.
The American-led coalition in Iraq and Syria halted its yearslong mission of attacking the Islamic State and training local forces in both countries Sunday as United States troops braced for retaliation from Iran after a strike that killed a powerful Iranian commander, military officials said.
So, now US forces have to worry about retaliation, rather than focusing on their mission against ISIS.
The US is deploying thousands of additional troops to the Middle East as tensions with Iran mount following the airstrike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
The additional troops — about 2,800 soldiers — are from the Immediate Response Force of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A US defense official told CNN on Friday that the move was expected, and the Pentagon later confirmed the deployment in a statement provided to CNN.
All of which is in the context of Mike Pompeo telling Chuck Todd on MTP this morning that America is now safer because of the killing of Suleimani:
Quite frankly, it is a little gross for Pompeo to talk about “a little noise” when it is manifestly obvious that Americans are less safe now. If killing Suleimani was a way to immediately create greater safety, we would be able to remove troops from the region, not need to add more. Further, we would be able to focus more heavily on ISIS rather than suspend activities.
Indeed, the State Department (headed by Pompeo, for those keeping score at home), issued the following on New Year’s Day: Iraq Travel Advisory (Level 4: Do Not Travel).
Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict.
U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias may also threaten U.S. citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad.
On December 31, 2019, the Embassy suspended public consular services, until further notice, as a result of damage done by Iranian-backed terrorist attacks on the Embassy compound.
Just a little noise, no doubt.
Update: Literally at the same time this was posting, the following alert popped on my phone: Iran and U.S. Updates: Iran Ends Its Commitment to 2015 Nuclear Deal.
Iran’s government said it was ending all its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal and would no longer limit its enrichment of uranium.
So much winning….