US to Send 3,500 More Troops After Killing Top Iranian General
(January 3, 2020) — On Thursday night, a US drone carried out an airstrike against the Baghdad International Airport, killing seven people, including top Iraqi officials and Iran’s top Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The Pentagon confirmed that the attack was carried out on orders of President Trump.
Iran is threatening a “harsh retaliation” after the attack, and the US intends to deploy another 3,500 troops to Iraq and the surrounding area in anticipation of this escalating further. Iran says retaliation will be at a time of their choice.
The timing of the 3,500 more troops arriving is unclear, though they’ll likely mostly arrive in Kuwait. This plans are in addition to 750 sent earlier this week, and 4,000 announced at the time.
This caps off a shockingly escalatory week that has left the US on the brink of war with Iran and, realistically, with Iraq as well. On last Friday, a series of rockets hit an Iraqi base, killing a US contractor. The US blamed an Iraqi militia, and on Sunday attacked five of the militia’s bases, killing 25. The militia responded with protests at the US Embassy, which the US blamed on Iran, and by Thursday had escalated that to killing Gen. Soleimani when he arrived at the Iraqi airport.
The US attack also killed some high-ranking Iraqi officials in the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). Analysts have said this attack was an act of war, and the US rushing troops to the region shows that they are expecting retaliation.
Iran has confirmed they intend to retaliate, and has also issued formal complaints by way of the Swiss Embassy. The UN responded by saying they don’t believe the world can handle another war in the Middle East.
ACTION ALERT: 4,000 More Troops to the Middle East?
CODEPINK formed in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war and has been working ever since to stop the Middle East wars. So we were horrified watching Trump’s latest strikes in Iraq and his decision to deploy more troops as we enter a new year.
After an increase in rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq, including one that killed a US military contractor on December 27, the Trump administration launched airstrikes on the Iraqi militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah, killing 25 members of the group. This attack has nothing to do with fighting the Islamic State and was carried out without any congressional approval, in violation of US law. The strikes have also escalated the conflict with Iran, since the militia group—which is part of the official Iraqi security forces—has ties to Iran.
Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi called the strikes a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and the attacks led to massive protests that besieged the US Embassy in Baghdad. They have also incensed Iraqi political leaders, who are calling for a full withdrawal of US troops. The withdrawal of US troops is actually what Trump had been promising the American people. But rather than exiting, the Trump administration announced the deployment of 750 more troops to the region and possibly another 4,000 soon. This is in addition to the 5,200 US soldiers already there.
While the Pentagon insists that the US troop presence is solely to help Iraq fight ISIS,Trump himself has defined its mission as being to “also to watch over Iran”—putting Iraq in the middle of Trump’s war on Iran.
The Trump administration is without question solely to blame for the current crisis. We predicted that Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions would backfire. We were right.
Even though the Iraqi protesters have left the US Embassy in Baghdad, the crisis is far from over, especially with Trump tweeting such grotesque threats as, “…Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”
There is nothing happy about beginning this new decade with threats of war and more troops deployed to the Middle East.
This is urgent and dire. I am writing to you to ask you, as your constituent, to oppose US military strikes in Iraq and the deployment of more troops to the region. The US’s actions in Iraq at the end of 2019 risk a war with Iran that would likely be worse than the disastrous US war with Iraq was. This is dangerous.
The US airstrikes have had a negative effect of US-Iraqi relations. Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi called the strikes a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and declared three national days of mourning for the Iraqi troops that US forces killed. The attacks led to massive protests that besieged the US Embassy in Baghdad and calls a broad swath of Iraqi political leaders for a withdrawal of all US troops. The US attack on Kata’ib Hezbollah has actually worked in favor of Iran, turning Iraqi public opinion and Iraqi leaders more solidly against the US military presence.
The US military presence in Iraq was reestablished in 2014 as part of the campaign against the Islamic State, but that campaign has wound down substantially since the near-destruction of the Islamic State.
While the Pentagon continues to insist that the US troop presence is solely to help Iraq fight IS, Trump himself has defined its mission as “also to watch over Iran” — putting Iraq in the middle of Trump’s war on Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi has made clear that the US does not have permission to use Iraq as a base from which to confront Iran. Such a mission would be patently illegal under Iraq’s 2005 constitution, drafted with the help of the United States, which forbids using the country’s territory to harm its neighbors.
The blame for the present crisis should be placed squarely on the doorstep of the White House itself. The Trump administration’s reckless decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and revert to the US policy of threats and sanctions is backfiring — as predicted.
As your constituent, I am asking you to speak out in strong opposition to US military strikes in Iran, the deployment of more troops to the region, and Trump’s instigation of a war against Iran. Please voice the position that the US should leave Iraq and make peace with Iran.