The German army: the United States and its allies have suspended training for Iraqi forces للمزيد:

German Army: The United States and its allies have suspended training for Iraqi forces

A A (Reuters) – The United States and its allies have suspended training for Iraqi forces, given the increasing threat they face, the German army said on Saturday. And Washington announced earlier, that it had killed the commander of the Quds Force Qassem Soleimani in a strike on the road to Baghdad International Airport, and also killed the deputy commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. The Pentagon stated that US President Donald Trump gave the order to assassinate Soleimani. The German government has called for calm, following the killing of Soleimani and the engineer. The “Spiegel” magazine quoted sources in the German army that Washington had sent warnings to its allies in Iraq after the killing of Soleimani, warning them against the consequences of also exposing them to targeting Iranian brigades. The magazine reported that the German army announced the absence of any German military movements outside the barracks, confirming the presence of tens of German soldiers within the international coalition against the “ISIS”.



Shebl Al-Zaidi, Secretary General of the Islamic Movement of Iraq, was killed


Iraqi official sources

Shebl Al-Zaidi, Secretary General of the Islamic Movement of Iraq, was killed

 Friday, January 3, 2020 – 11:18 GMT

Iraqi official sources confirmed the martyrdom of the Secretary-General of the Islamic Iraq Movement, Shibl al-Zaidi.

The World – Iraq

Reuters, quoting an Iraqi military source, said that six people were killed and three others were seriously wounded due to air strikes targeting a convoy of the popular crowd near the camp of Taji, north of Baghdad.

The source said that two of the three vehicles that were forming a convoy were burned, and that the strikes occurred at 1:12 am local time.

HomeWorld News 6 killed in airstrike north of Baghdad targeting convoy carrying Shia militia leaders – report



It was reported, at dawn on Saturday, that a prominent leader in the popular crowd was killed with his brother and five of his companions in a US air raid in the Taji area, north of Baghdad, targeting a convoy of two cars.



FILE: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (FILE/EPA)

12 Hours ago

SULAIMANI — Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemned on Friday a US air strike on Baghdad airport that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and called on all parties to practice restraint.

“The vicious attack on Baghdad international airport last night is an insolent breach of Iraqi sovereignty and international agreements. It led to the killing of several commanders who defeated Islamic State terrorists,” Sistani’s office said in a statement according to Reuters.

“These events and more indicate the country is heading towards very difficult times. We call on all concerned parties to behave with self restraints and act wisely,” he said.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)


Top commander’s assassination leaves Iran with very few options to retaliate




 WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS
Following Qasem Soleimani’s assassination in Iraq, there has been heightened concern about an Iranian reaction. But due to Tehran’s economic hardship, decreased support from the public in Middle East societies and international isolation, Iran isn’t likely to seek revenge militarily against the United States.

Not only Iraqis, but the whole world was shocked by the assassination of the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, and his right-hand man, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). This event, without a doubt, will change the map of conflict in the region.

The attack took place around 1 a.m. on Jan. 3 near the Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani had just arrived in Baghdad and had gotten into a vehicle, but his convoy was struck by drones before it had left the airport grounds. Soleimani, Muhandis and six other PMU figures were killed immediately.

A few hours later, the IRGC announced that four other IRGC generals were killed in the attack as well.

This presence of this number of important people altogether indicates that they had been planning something very big, probably against the US after the latter attack on PMU bases in northern Iraq and Syria. This was what US officials confirmed as well. US President Donal Trump said “We took action last night to stop a war” and Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s main congressional advisers, called the operation a “preemptive, defensive strike planned to take out the organizer of attacks yet to come.”

The operation was very well planned, organized and executed. The United States had access to very sensitive information and likely had been tracking Soleimani’s movements and activity for a long time.

The scene was indeed set perfectly. Washington could not have chosen a better time, as after a series of protests from Baghdad to Tehran and Beirut, Soleimani had lost some public support and was seen as part of Iran’s suppression system against people and their free wills. The attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad had also turned the majority of Iraqi political forces and the international community against Soleimani as the highest — albeit unofficial — leader of the PMU. The location turned out to be perfect as well. The strike took place in Iraqi territory, raising questions among the Iraqi public about the reason for an Iranian general being present in Iraq, especially after accusations facing Iran-backed forces of killing Iraqi protesters and abducting many of them. Selecting a quiet place in the airport also prevented the killing of any civilians that might allow Iran to victimize themselves and demonize the United States.

The reaction of the Iraqi public was not as strong as Iran might have expected. The president, prime minister and most of the Iraqi political parties — including Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites, among them Muqtada al-Sadr’s and Ammar al-Hakim’s movements — only denounced the event, calling all involved parties in Iraq to be patient and avoid any clash on Iraqi territory.

“In this exceptional circumstance, it is the duty of the Iraqis to adhere to their unity, close ranks and transcendent disputes in order to protect the supreme national interests, and to protect the sovereignty and security of the country and spare it the scourge and tragedies of armed conflicts that have worn it over four decades … and its effects and wounds are still not healed,” Iraqi President Barham Salih said in his statement.

Meanwhile, top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, during his representative Friday sermon, also condemned the assassination and called it a breach of Iraqi sovereignty. Yet at the same time, Sistani called upon all parties to have a high degree of patience and avoid pushing the country toward the abyss.

The PMU announced it was on the highest state of alert. As announced, Soleimani’s funeral will be held in Baghdad Jan. 4, and then his body will be transferred to Tehran.

In Iran, the government called for mass protests to show support to the regime and condemn the incident. Soleimani, due to his great influence in the region, is probably the most respected figure in the country — even among the people who do not support the Islamic regime.

Sadr, who has been living in Iran since the beginning of the protests Oct. 1, activated his Mahdi Army and called upon his followers to be ready for any necessary action to protect Iraq from any possible conflict. At the same time, he called on all parties to be patient and avoid bringing any regional conflict into the country.

In terms of Iran’s reaction, all influential parties in Iraq are calling for restraint and patience. Even the pro-Iranian groups, although calling for strong revenge, are simultaneously beseeching all sides not to escalate the conflict in Iraq.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council had its special meeting about the incident, which was led by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the first time. The council announced after the meeting that “Iran will take revenge at the suitable time and place,” which indicates Iran is not willing to escalate in the near future.

In fact, the economic hardship in Iran — in addition to the challenges the government is facing internally — would not allow Tehran to increase the tension. Iran’s past conduct against Israel strikes on Iranian bases in Syria also shows it will not seek revenge if its national security and interests are in danger.

From the US side, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for reducing the escalation, saying, “I reiterated our commitment to de-escalation.” US President Donald Trump also indicated that Iran should take up negotiation instead of confrontation, tweeting, “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!”

This all indicates that Iran and its proxies in the region most likely would not seek revenge in the near future and — in regard to Iraq, in particular — would not lead Iraq to fall into a civil war or mass destruction, because it would lose even more in Iraq if it takes such a risk.

Iran is also very unlikely to push its Iraqi political forces to go ahead with legislation asking US troops to leave the country, as this would raise strong objections from Kurdish and Sunni forces and push them to work for separation. Iran would be the first party affected by such a dangerous move.


Ali Mamouri is Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse Editor and a researcher and writer who specializes in religion. He is a former teacher in Iranian universities and seminaries in Iran and Iraq. He has published several articles related to religious affairs in the two countries and societal transformations and sectarianism in the Middle East.


Read more:

The United Nations representative in Iraq calls for restraint


IRAQ NEWS NOW01/20/2020 10:36:42 PM Print319

The United Nations representative in Iraq calls for restraint


Baghdad / Al-Ghad Press:

The United Nations representative in Iraq, Jenin Blackshart, called Friday for restraint.


“We urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid another destructive cycle of violence and regional instability,” Blackshart said in a press statement.

She added, “For a long time, Iraq has been the scene of competition for different powers,” indicating “Iraqis deserve stability and peace, and the voice of reason must prevail.”

Soleimani planned to attack U.S. personnel in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, elsewhere: Trump administration official



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Qassem Soleimani, Tehran’s most prominent military commander, was planning imminent attacks on U.S. diplomats and armed forces in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, a senior Trump administration official said on Friday.

“This was a defensive strike, that was taken, and supported by very solid intelligence … This was strongly supported by everything that we were seeing that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks against American diplomats and armed forces members in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and in the region,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“This was an action taken in self defense, and the United States has the inherent right to defend itself, if it is faced with an attack.”

Reporting By Arshad Mohammed, David Brunnstrom and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chris Reese