Why Trump is escalating the US-Israeli war on Iran

An Iranian man carries a portrait of Qasem Soleimani, in Tehran on 3 January, the day after the Iranian general was assassinated in an American air attack on Baghdad airport. Morteza Nikoubazl SIPA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the US attacks on Iraq that killed senior Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Iraqi militias that were instrumental in the defeat of ISIS – so-called Islamic State.

President Donald Trump “is worthy of full appreciation for acting with determination, strongly and swiftly,” Netanyahu said Friday.

Other senior Israeli politicians, including supposed opposition leaders, lauded the American attack. Among them, Amir Peretz, head of the ostensibly center-left Labor-Gesher party, said Soleimani “deserved to die” and thanked Trump.

Peretz’s hatred of Iran is perhaps understandable. He was defense minister during Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, in which that country’s resistance – supported by Iran – dealt Israel a humiliating defeat.

Yossi Melman, a veteran analyst of Israeli intelligence, called the US escalation “good news for Israel” because it draws the United States even further into Israel’s attacks on Iran and its interests.

In an initial response, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif lauded Soleimani as the head of “the most effective force” in fighting ISIS and al-Qaida, and termed his killing an act of “international terrorism.”

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