By Philip Giraldi
Admittedly the news cycle in the United States seldom runs longer than twenty-four hours, but that should not serve as an excuse when a major story that contradicts what the Trump administration has been claiming appears and suddenly dies. The public that actually follows the news might recall a little more than one month ago the United States assassinated a senior Iranian official Qassem Soleimani. Openly killing someone in the government of a country with which one is not at war is, to say the least, unusual, particularly when the crime is carried out in yet another country with which both the perpetrator and the victim have friendly relations. The justification provided by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking for the administration, was that Soleimani was in Iraq planning an “imminent” mass killing of Americans, for which no additional evidence was provided at that time or since.
It soon emerged that the Iranian general was in fact in Baghdad to discuss with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi a plan that might lead to the de-escalation of the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a meeting that the White House apparently knew about may even have approved. If that is so, events as they unfolded suggest that the US government might have encouraged Soleimani to make his trip so he could be set up and killed. Donald Trump later dismissed the lack of any corroboration of the tale of “imminent threat” being peddled by Pompeo, stating that it didn’t really matter as Soleimani was a terrorist who deserved to die.
The incident that started the killing cycle that eventually included Soleimani consisted of a December 27th attack on a US base in Iraq in which four American soldiers and two Iraqis were wounded while one US contractor, an Iraqi-born translator, was killed. The United States immediately blamed Iran, claiming that it had been carried out by an Iranian supported Shi’ite militia called Kata’ib Hezbollah. It provided no evidence for that claim and retaliated by striking a Kata’ib base, killing 25 Iraqis who were in the field fighting the remnants of Daesh. The militiamen had been incorporated into the Iraqi Army and this disproportionate response led to riots outside the US Embassy in Baghdad, which were also blamed on Iran by the US. There then followed the assassinations of Soleimani and nine senior Iraqi militia officers. Iran retaliated when it fired missiles at American forces, injuring more than one hundred soldiers, and then mistakenly shot down a passenger jet, killing an additional 176 people. As a consequence due to the killing by the US of 34 Iraqis in the two incidents, the Iraqi Parliament also voted to expel all American troops.
It now appears that the original death of the American contractor that sparked the tit-for-tat conflict was not carried out by Kata’ib Hezbollah at all. An Iraqi Army investigative team has gathered conv