Report: US gives green light to Israeli assassination of Iranian general
A report in a Kuwaiti newspaper says U.S. intelligence has given a green light to Israel to assassinate a top Iranian Revolutionary Guards general.
Qassem Soleimani has commanded the notorious Revolutionary Guards unit known as the Quds Force for 20 years. The Quds Force is responsible for projecting military power outside the borders of Iran. Soleimani has been in command of Iranian and Hezb'allah units in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq and has overseen several assassinations of Iranian dissidents in Europe and elsewhere.
Israel wanted to kill Soleimani three years ago, but the Obama administration tipped off the Iranians, and the effort failed.
Three years ago, Israel came close to assassinating Soleimani near Damascus, al-Jarida quoted unnamed source as saying, but the Americans tipped off the Iranians against the background of intense disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem.
That was during the Obama administration, which, according to reports at the time, was so focused on securing the 2015 Iran nuclear accord that it chose to overlook and even obstruct efforts to clamp down on Iranian-backed terror organizations.
It's not clear if the reported tip-off was related to efforts to secure the Iran deal.
Today, the Trump and Netanyahu administrations see eye to eye on Iran. Just four days ago, the two countries signed a joint memorandum of understanding laying the groundwork for full cooperation to deal with Iran's nuclear drive, its missile programs[,] and its other threatening activities, an Israeli TV report said recently.
The source was quoted by the paper as saying that Soleimani's assassination would serve both countries' interests and that [U.S.] authorities have given Israel the go-ahead to carry it out.
The commander of the Quds Force is a powerful position. He reports directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. In the chaotic Iranian power structure, Soleimani has a measure of autonomy that is unique.
Killing Soleimani would be a blow to the Revolutionary Guards but hardly a mortal one. It would cripple the Quds Force, perhaps for a period of months. With the Syrian civil war winding down and ISIS kicked out of Iraq, it's hard to see how the assassination would materially affect the outcome in either country.
There's always the risk of blowback if Soleimani is taken out. Iran may respond with terror attacks in the region on U.S. interests. But Soleimani appears to be a unique individual in the Iranian power structure and would be worth getting rid of.