With the Trump and Netanyahu administrations now working in lockstep, U.S.-Israeli hostility towards Iran has now ripened into a plan to repeat what befell Syria over six years ago – the hijacking of minor protests and their transformation into the cover for a foreign-funded insurgency intent on toppling Iran’s elected government.
by Whitney Webb
Part 2 - Reviving a once-thwarted assassination plan
On Monday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that an “American-Israeli agreement” had been forged that determined that Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force active in fighting the Wahhabist insurgency in Syria, is a “threat to the two countries’ interests in the region.” This understanding subsequently resulted in the U.S. government giving Israel the “green light” to assassinate Soleimani, a plan Israel had unsuccessfully attempted to carry out three years earlier. The Obama administration had thwarted that operation, when Israel was allegedly “on the verge” of killing Soleimani near Damascus, by warning the Iranian government of the plan.
However, the U.S.’ failure to enact regime change in Syria – a close ally of Iran – and the Trump administration’s close relationship with Israel have apparently led the U.S. government to openly voice its support for Israel to assassinate a top general of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, a move that would likely embroil Iran and Israel – and perhaps the rest of the Middle East – in war.
Indeed, Soleimani’s force in Syria has been instrumental in aiding the Syrian government in eliminating the largely foreign-funded Wahhabist insurgency that was intended to remove Syrian president Bashar al-Assad from power, a key strategic goal of both the U.S. and Israel in the region.
Furthermore — with the disintegration of Daesh (ISIS) in Syria and, along with it, the disintegration of the U.S.-led coalition’s excuse for its illegal presence in Syria — Soleimani delivered a forceful message to the U.S. forces stationed in Northwest Syria. In that message, delivered to the U.S. via the Russian military, Soleimani warned the U.S. military command in Syria that it best remove all U.S. forces currently present in Syria “or the doors of hell will open up,” adding that “I advise you leave by your own will or you will be forced to.”
Russia later echoed Soleimani, albeit less forcefully, by advising that U.S. forces vacate Syria, as the terrorist threat has been largely eliminated and the U.S.’ continued presence in the country would be in violation of the Syrian government’s sovereignty.
However, the U.S. has made it clear that it has no plans to leave Syria anytime soon. Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis insisted that the “war is not over” in Syria or Iraq, as much works remain to be done to prevent a potential resurgence of Daesh. Mattis’ words came just days after reports surfaced alleging that U.S. forces in Northwestern Syria are retraining Daesh fighters from areas “liberated” by U.S. proxy forces.
The endgame of this U.S. operation is likely the exportation of insurgents from Northwestern Syria through Iraqi Kurdistan, where U.S. forces are still present, and into eastern Iran where the fomentation of an armed insurgency will be used to destabilize and hijack the protests currently taking place in Iran. Most of the recent growth in reported unrest has been concentrated in eastern Iran.
In order for such a program to achieve its goal, the U.S. must be able to continue illegally occupying northwestern Syria. With Soleimani out of the picture and the Quds Force in Syria thus weakened, that occupation would be significantly easier to prolong.