Donald Trump’s justification for assassinating the Iranian military leader Qasim Suleimani on January 2 was Suleimani’s alleged threats to American diplomats and soldiers in Iraq. But even the New York Times cites his responsibility for “waves of militia attacks on Israel” and an attack on Saudi Arabia as reasons for the assassination.
Many reports suggest that Israeli interests were taken into account in Trump’s decision. Noga Tarnopolsky in the LA Times reports that Israeli officials got advance notice:
Israel had advance notice of the U.S. plan… Israeli military and diplomatic analysts reported Friday night while refraining from providing further details due to heavy military censorship.
“Our assessment is that the United States informed Israel about this operation in Iraq, apparently a few days ago,” Barak Ravid, a journalist and commentator with deep sources in the Israeli security establishment, said on Channel 13.
The Trump administration consulted with Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Israel ahead of the strike, but did not consult with European allies, says Negar Mortazavi of the Independent. “[Mike] Pompeo called Netanyahu, MBS [Mohammed bin Salman], and MBZ [Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed] more than once in the past few days to discuss Iran, per State Department.” Mortavazi notes that State Department releases yesterday show that Pompeo called the UK and German foreign ministers after the fact.
Sana Saeed of AJPlus observes:
Congress didn’t know about the decision to assassinate Soleimani – but guess who did? Israel.
Jeff Morley reports that Israeli security officials had recommended the assassination of Suleimani last year. “After Mossad targeted Soleimani, Trump pulled the trigger.” Morley reported last October that Israel appeared to be targeting Suleimani.
Last October Yossi Cohen, head of Israel’s Mossad, spoke openly about assassinating Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“He knows very well that his assassination is not impossible,” Cohen said in an interview. Soleimani had boasted that the Israel’s tried to assassinate him in 2006 and failed.
“Trump has now fulfilled the wishes of Mossad,” Morley concludes. “After proclaiming his intention to end America’s ‘stupid endless wars,’ the president has effectively declared war on the largest country in the region in solidarity with Israel, the most unpopular country in the Middle East.”
The New York Times reports that Israeli officials had previously pushed the idea of killing Suleimani but leaders in Israel and the U.S. resisted, lest the killing detonate a war with Iran.
At least once, though, Israeli officials ran the possibility of attacking him up their command structure. That was in February 2008, while Israeli and American intelligence operatives were tracking Mr. Mugniyah, the Hezbollah commander, in the hopes of killing him, according to senior American and Israeli intelligence officials. [Imad Mugniyah was assassinated by Israel in Syria in 2008.]
Jonathan Ofir writes on Facebook:
The notion that USA acted on its own, without connection to Israel, is a claim that only benefits Israeli Hasbara.
MJ Rosenberg tweets that Israel’s complicity in the attack will never be explored by Congress.
Speaking of AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group voiced its pleasure at Trump’s decision yesterday and likened Suleimani to Osama bin Laden:
The president’s decisive action brought to justice one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, who was responsible for the deaths of over 600 U.S. servicemen.
As the commander of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani ruthlessly carried out the regime’s revolutionary ambitions, causing death and destruction across the Middle East while endangering our allies and interests…
AIPAC seemed to echo Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lavished praise on Trump yesterday: “President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense.”
Just as important as AIPAC is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a pro-Israel thinktank that has supplied many policy analysts to the Trump administration.
One of those Trump hawks, Richard Goldberg, left his job as a senior national security advisor at the White House yesterday; but Bloomberg reports that Goldberg’s salary was paid by FDD. “Goldberg will return to FDD, which continued to pay his salary during his time on the National Security Council.”
Former Obama official Ned Price is disturbed by the report: “If true, it’s a reminder that corruption and conflicts of interest are always part of the equation – even when the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
Reporter Nick Wadhams explains FDD’s influence:
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton created Goldberg’s job — director for countering Iran’s weapons of mass destruction — explicitly for him. The goal was to counter what Bolton saw as a desire at the departments of State and Treasury to weaken the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran…
That fight was only one of the administration’s internecine battles related to Iran and underscored the influence wielded by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the think tank where Goldberg previously worked, in pushing for a tougher line against Iran.
In its coverage of the assassination, The New York Times gave prominent space to FDD’s ceo, Mark Dubowitz, to justify the assassination of Suleimani. Eli Clifton of the Quincy Institute points to the funding for FDD:
Perhaps relevant to disclose to NYT’s readers that FDD’s biggest donor is Trump mega donor Bernie Marcus who says “Iran is the devil”?
You’re literally quoting someone affirming Trump’s foreign policy decisions who is funded by one of Trump’s biggest donors.
Marcus is founder of Home Depot and Trump’s second biggest donor after Sheldon Adelson. Far and away Trump’s largest donor, Adelson has said he wished he had served in the Israeli army not the U.S. army. He once urged President Obama to nuke Iran.
Eli Clifton reported two years ago that Marcus and Adelson and a third pro-Israel billionaire donor paved the way for Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal.
Marcus called the Iran deal a “deadly deadly treaty,” Militarist Monitor reports. And Marcus has funded many rightwing pro-Israel groups:
According to tax filings, Marcus’ eponymous foundation has supported hawkish and neoconservative-linked groups like the American Enterprise Institute, Christians United for Israel, Friends of the IDF, the Hoover Institution, the Hudson Institute, the Israel Project, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Manhattan Institute, and the Middle East Media Research Institute, as well as other conservative groups like Judicial Watch and the Philanthropy Roundtable. He also sits on the board of directors for the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Colin Powell once blamed the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs for the plan to invade Iraq, which he supported. The idea that Israel figured prominently in U.S. policy makers’ decision to invade Iraq is both widely accepted— and disputed. Often this idea is said to be bigoted; and that’s one reason the mainstream press avoids the Israel angle, then and now.
Thanks to Scott Roth and James North.