(Tea Party PAC) – Retired Army General David Petraeus, the former commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as former director for the CIA, is calling the airstrike which killed Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani “more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden.”
Soleimani, according to a statement from the Department of Defense after Friday’s stirke, was “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”
Along with Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, was also killed, along with five others, in a drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport.
“It is impossible to overstate the importance of this particular action. It is more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the death of [Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi,” Petraeus told Foreign Policy in a Friday interview. “Soleimani was the architect and operational commander of the Iranian effort to solidify control of the so-called Shia crescent, stretching from Iran to Iraq through Syria into southern Lebanon.”
The airstrike came following a New Year’s Eve attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad by Iran-backed Shi’ite militias.
On Wednesday, President Trump ordered about 750 soldiers to be deployed to the Middle East, according to the Associated Press.
The attack on the US embassy came after US airstrikes last weekend which killed 25 members of the Kataeb Hezbollah militant group.
Those strikes had been in response to the killing of an American contractor last week in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base which the US blamed on the militia.
Petraeus affirmed the DOD’s assertion that the Soleimani strike was a defensive response.
So, how will Iran respond?
“Iran is in a very precarious economic situation, it is very fragile domestically — they’ve killed many, many hundreds if not thousands of Iranian citizens who were demonstrating on the streets of Iran in response to the dismal economic situation and the mismanagement and corruption,” Petraeus said.
“I just don’t see the Iranians as anywhere near as supportive of the regime at this point as they were decades ago during the Iran-Iraq War,” he continued, adding that the US has “taken a very, very significant action” but did not declare war.
“Obviously all sides will suffer if this becomes a wider war, but Iran has to be very worried that — in the state of its economy, the significant popular unrest and demonstrations against the regime — that this is a real threat to the regime in a way that we have not seen prior to this,” Petraeus said.
President Donald Trump defended his decision to call for the airstrike in televised remarks on Friday.
“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” the president said.
Petraeus added in his interview that the U.S. didn’t have a choice but to conduct the attack on Iraqi soil.
“Again what was the alternative? Do it in Iran? Think of the implications of that,” he said. “This is a very significant effort to re-establish deterrence, which obviously had not been shored up by the relatively insignificant responses up until now.”