The Week in Review: December.27th – January 3rd

Iran’s top military commander was assassinated in a U.S. air strike that targeted a convoy driving through Baghdad airport on Thursday. General Qassem Soleimani died alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a militia collective backed by the Iranian government.

Washington said it had seen signs that Iranian officials or their proxies were poised to launch more attacks, and that the U.S would take preemptive action if it got “word of an attack or some type of an indication.”

Iranian government officials said they would avenge Soleimani’s death, and vowed to increase its resistance to U.S. pressure, which includes tough sanctions on Iran’s economy and targeted attacks against military bases belonging to its proxies in the Middle East.

Responding to the incident, Britain urged restraint after Soleimani’s death, while Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut a trip short to return to Israel, amid fears that Iran would strike the state with force to avenge the killing.

Protests in Baghdad led by Iran-backed militia and their supporters outside the U.S. embassy wound down after the PMF issued a call to stop the protests. The U.S. had sent extra troops to push back the demonstrators.

The U.S. carried out air strikes in Iraq and Syria targeting the Iran-led Kataib Hezbollah militia group, in response to the death of a U.S. civilian stationed on an Iraqi military base according to U.S. officials. The United States accused Kataib Hezbollah of firing more than 30 rockets, which killed the civilian contractor and injured several service men from the U.S. and Iraqi armed forces.

And an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 hit northeastern Iran. No casualties or damage were reported.

  • Leaked Iran military memos published on social media suggest a deepening anxiety within the Iranian government about the rising unrest inside the country.
    → Link to source
  • Several Iranians living in the U.S. have written a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr calling for the expulsion of reformist politician Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh from U.S. soil.
    Link to source
  • The Guardian Council has defended the violent crackdown on protestors during the demonstrations in November, calling the response ‘lawful,’ despite growing condemnation from the international community.
    → Link to source.
  • The Iranian Short Film Association (ISFA) has asked the government to ease censorship rules for short films, using it to uphold freedom of speech as a right.
    → Link to source.