‘A truly evil figure’
International | Leaked cables reveal Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s proxy war in Iraq
by Mindy Belz
Posted 1/06/20, 01:10 pm
IRAQ: The Iraqi Anglican congregation at St. George’s sits next to Baghdad’s Green Zone, where rockets aimed at the U.S. Embassy landed on Sunday, “But with your prayers, we are fine until now,” a church deacon told me. Attendance is down, he said, because authorities have closed three bridges leading to the area since anti-government demonstrations began in September.
- Those demonstrations centered on popular frustration with the increasing dominance of Iran and its militias, directed by Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, killed leaving the Baghdad airport early Friday morning in a U.S. airstrike. Such dominance was on display Sunday as members of the Iraqi parliament voted to end U.S. military presence in the country.
- The vote was 170-0 in the 328-seat assembly, with about 150 lawmakers, mostly Sunnis and Kurds, not attending—a reflection of inordinate pressure by Iran.
- The United States has suspended current military operations against ISIS in Iraq and ordered U.S. citizens to leave the country.
- In 2007, Gen. David Petraeus described Soleimani as “a truly evil figure” in a letter to then–Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The brutal tactics favored by Soleimani in Iraq are unpacked in this new cache of leaked Iranian cables, showing how Soleimani ramped up a proxy war in Iraq while Turkey did the same in Syria.
KENYA: Fighters with al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based and al-Qaeda-linked terror group, overran a key military base used by U.S. counterterrorism forces near Kenya’s coast before dawn Sunday, killing three U.S. military personnel and destroying several U.S. aircraft and vehicles.
VENEZUELA: The Nicolás Maduro regime swore in its own candidate to lead the democratically elected National Assembly after blocking opposition leaders from attending the vote and allegedly paying off lawmakers to switch sides. The move, dubbed a parliamentary coup, appears to rob opposition leader Juan Guaidó of the presidency of the body, where for a year he has staked a rival claim as head of state and received recognition from the United States and other countries. Guaidó and allied lawmakers met at a local newspaper, where he was again voted in 100-0, and the U.S. State Department said it would continue to recognize him as head of state.
LEBANON: Former Nissan head and fugitive Carlos Ghosn made his movie-worthy escape from Japan with the help of two U.S. security operatives, one an ex–Green Beret and the other a Lebanese-born U.S. citizen who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan.
AUSTRALIA: Similar to conditions in a volcanic eruption or atomic bomb blast, the wildfires in southeastern Australia are burning so hot they create their own thunderstorms and lightning. One Australian expert has been widely reported estimating that half a billion animals have been affected by the wildfires.
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Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.