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“It is impossible to overstate the significance of this action.”  former CIA Director, General David Petraeus 

The strike on Soleimani, the head of the IRGC, is a message to Iran that the unfettered use of their paramilitary forces to attack Americans and their allies in the area is not going to be tolerated any longer.”  former Deputy Director of the NSA Rick Ledgett 

“It will require sophisticated diplomacy and fine touch strategy neither side has shown to keep this from escalating into broad scale violence in the Middle East, especially now that the U.S. has claimed responsibility.”  former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin

“The U.S. killing of General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis is an act of statecraft that will be judged by its consequences.”  Nick Fishwick, Former Senior British Diplomat, 

“The death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike is arguably the most seminal event in the region since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.”  former Senior CIA Officer Marc Polymeropoulos 

“Rest assured that his revenge will be taken. Everyone will take revenge.” Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran

 Considering the serious urgency of the recent events in the Middle East, I will delay my 2020 forecasts by a week, or two, so that we can deal with what is on most of our minds right now.  The current series of global occurrences have the potential of shaping this  entire year for much of the world.

In this edition of “More than Meets the Eye I want to address several things that are not being discussed in the mainstream media concerning the targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3rd. I plan to address the situations that most of us are not seeing.

I will be writing in my blog this week as well, posts that will enhance your understanding of how these events have and are unfolding, as well as how they will likely pan out. You can read my blog by clicking here… https://www.morethanmeets.co/public-blog/

Review.

What are the elements of the recent drone strike catastrophe which are escaping the general public’s eye? I will clarify what happened and then move on to what is probably occurring behind the scenes. We will discuss what will most likely be happening soon on the main screen as well.

What has happened? Here is the best and most concise rendering on the events that I have found so far. I discovered it in CipherBrief along with other sources.

  • Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, was killed in a U.S.-directed drone strike on January 3rd in Baghdad.
  • U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said the strike was launched in order to deter “imminent threats to American lives,” and he said that Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions…that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.”
  • Within hours of Soleimani’s death, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded to the killing saying, “With his departure, and with God’s power, his work and path will not cease, and severe revenge awaits those criminals who have tainted their filthy hands with his blood and the blood of the other martyrs of last night’s incident.” Khamenei quickly announced that General Esmail Qaani would be replacing Soleimani as the head of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp’s Quds Force. (It is interesting that the religious leader appointed Soleimani’s replacement, not the President.)
  • The U.S. said on Friday that it is sending an additional 3,500 troops to the region. This is in addition to 750 soldiers from the 82nd airborne division that had already been deployed in response to protests outside the U.S. Embassy before Soleimani’s killing. Thousands of additional U.S. troops have been put on standby.
  • The military advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Hossein Dehgan told CNN that “The response for sure will be military and against military sites…The only thing that can end this period of war is for the Americans to receive a blow that is equal to the blow they have inflicted.”
  • In a series of Tweets, President Donald Trump said, “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
  • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Soleimani’s killing marks a new phase in the history of the Middle East.
  • The Iraqi Parliament has passed a non-binding resolution to expel U.S. troops from the country in response to the strike against Soleimani. 
  • The U.K. has made a strong statement in support of the U.S. and this action underscores the importance of this historic partnership. 
  • Germany has issued a full declaration of support.
  • The United States conducted its devastating attacks based on intelligence indicating that Soleimani and Muhandis were planning a series of operations using local Shi’ite militia to attack American military installations and diplomats in Iraq. I have seen the intelligence and it is solid.

What is happening behind the scenes right now?

There is a flurry of diplomatic missions taking place right now. Many of the governments who stand to lose the most are asking their Iranian ambassadors to hear their pleas to not intimidate the Americans. There will be promises of concessions in exchange for their compliance. My guess is that these pleas will fall on deaf ears. The Iranian culture is an honor and shame culture. They have been deeply shamed by what they consider to be an infidel nation. In their minds this is an affront to Allah. They would be disobedient if they did not exact revenge for Qassem Soleimani’s death.  There will be retribution. They simply will not let this go.

As a result of this major event, Russia and China will most likely seize the opportunity to cast the U.S. as the aggressor in order to enhance its relationship with Iran by siding with them in their public statements. There is a high probability that they will mobilize the U.N. Security Council to censure the actions of the U.S. and to recommend some form of UN action against this “aggression.” It will fail because the US and the UK will vote it down.  The U.N. Security Council can only pass resolutions with a 100% vote, yay or nay.

What can we expect in the very near future?

There will be as many as a dozen revenge attacks, most likely more. It will not be a matter of if, but when and where. 

What most of us will never be aware of is that more than likely 75% of the revenge attacks will fail because of US Intelligence interception. We will only ever hear about the 25% of the attacks that do happen.

I also believe that we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that further strikes may be required in order to stop the threat which prompted Soleimani’s death. It is unlikely that the US will sit by idly and wait for Iran to exact retribution. 

Iranian General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard in the southern province of Kerman, says that he has identified 32 viable targets against American forces in the region. My guess is that, this is a ruse designed to throw off Intelligence analysts. I don’t think it is working. There are many potential targets in the Middle East. Most are hard targets, meaning that there are already defenses in place to protect against such attacks. Terrorists and those with terrorist mind-sets understand that failure against these kinds of targets can be as embarrassing as the death of Soleimani. My prediction is that they will go after softer targets in Europe, Africa and even in the USA. 

It would be easy for Iran to operationalize its latent forces that are inevitably already in the USA and Europe in small attack cells. These kinds of attacks are difficult to activate quickly as communications are easily intercepted. The coming attacks are most likely already planned and awaiting orders to go.

Another scenario is to attack soft targets in the Middle East, such as American hotels, where American business people, tourists and diplomats might stay. This would be the easiest and quickest to pull off.

Finally, to simplify, one might suggest that they will attempt all of them. The mood of the Iranian leadership is that this is a “put up or shut-up time.” Most attacks will be defeated. Some will succeed. Even one success will allow the Ayatollah to declare victory and pacify the embarrassment. 

Why.

The stakes are certainly high right now. I would suggest that you post-pone your Middle East travel for a season. Your American passport makes you a target. Your presence  makes you a potential victim of collateral damage. 

Having said that, I am also suggesting that you take your personal situational awareness to another level. Pay attention to what is happening around you. Our conditions are steeped in the unpredictable.

Resist the temptation to categorize people because of their color or clothing. The number of Muslims in the world who want to destroy you or me are few. Look for things out of the ordinary.  Report them if they seem suspicious. Trust your gut. Do not trust your fears.

This is not a season for fear. It is one for sober awareness, sound judgement and discernment. Start with loving your neighbor. Once you have done that, love your enemies as well. I assure you, you will not go wrong with this formula.

Action.

Learn what “right” looks like. Pay attention to what is normal, so that when abnormal happens, you are prepared to address it. I live by a 1, 10 and 100 rule. When I walk out my door and when I am in groups of people, I begin by quickly glancing around to see what is exactly within one meter of me (an arms length). Then I turn my attention to what is within 10 meters of me and then look outward to 100 meters. I ask myself a simple question. “Is there anything here that is out of the ordinary?” Then I move on. It takes all of 15 seconds at most. It has saved my life on several occasions.

The follow-up.

If you have not followed what happened on January 3rd, here are several articles that I recommend which give a sober assessment of what actually happened.

https://patriotheadline.com/2020/01/04/iran-not-yet-ready-for-war-against-us-walid-phares/

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/avenging-the-death-of-qassem-soleimani?mc_cid=893360f34b&mc_eid=5c234a7378

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-soleimani-insight/inside-the-plot-by-irans-soleimani-to-attack-u-s-forces-in-iraq-idUSKBN1Z301Z

The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:  david@morethanmeets.co

Resources.

https://www.dni.gov/index.php/what-we-do/members-of-the-ic

https://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison

https://fas.org/irp/budget/index.html

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/avenging-the-death-of-qassem-soleimani?mc_cid=893360f34b&mc_eid=5c234a7378

https://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-dossiers/iran-dossier/iran-19-03-ch-1-tehrans-strategic-intent

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/01/whos-next-trump-crossed-line-soleimanis-assassination/162201/?oref=defense_one_breaking_nl

https://capitalhill.org/2020/01/03/lindsey-grahams-latest-message-has-iran-shaking-in-their-boots/

https://patriotheadline.com/2020/01/04/iran-not-yet-ready-for-war-against-us-walid-phares/

https://thefreedomflag.com/dan-crenshaw-heres-why-killing-soleimani-was-a-great-move/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/04/us-airstrikes-kill-iraqi-militia-near-baghdad-one-day-assassination/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-soleimani-insight/inside-the-plot-by-irans-soleimani-to-attack-u-s-forces-in-iraq-idUSKBN1Z301Z

https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2020/01/05/iraq-and-iran-raise-the-stakes-after-the-killing-of-qassem-suleimani?cid1=cust/dailypicks1/n/bl/n/2020016n/owned/n/n/dailypicks1/n/n/NA/373010/n

https://www.euronews.com/2020/01/03/a-declaration-of-war-and-an-escalation-the-world-reacts-to-soleimani-killing

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/01/03/thousands-more-us-troops-deploying-middle-east-response-iranian-threats.html

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/the-soleimani-assassination-a-view-from-britain/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-raab-legal/uks-raab-says-us-had-right-of-self-defense-in-soleimani-killing-idUSKBN1Z408N

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2020/Jan-05/498607-trump-vows-to-hit-52-targets-if-iran-retaliates.ashx

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/01/03/around-the-halls-experts-react-to-the-killing-of-iranian-commander-qassem-soleimani/

https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/iranian-sleeper-cells-have-been-hiding-in-america-uncovered-in-nyc/

https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2020/01/04/2174109/vital-american-targets-in-region-within-reach-iranian-commander

https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-will-russia-react-killing-soleimani

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/chinas-response-to-the-soleimani-killing/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-past-retaliation-iran-has-aimed-for-soft-targets-11578354261

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