If you thought the assassination of a beloved Iranian military commander would destabilise the Middle East, you’re probably more qualified to lead American foreign policy than President Donald Trump.
We say that because a speaker at the state funeral of Major General Qassim Soleimani has suggested raising a US$80 million (AU$115 million) bounty for Trump’s head, highlighting the nation’s anger and grief at his death.
Al Arabiya reports a eulogist suggested a bounty be put on Trump’s head during yesterday’s live broadcast from the Iranian city of Mashhad:
We are 80 million Iranians, if each one of us puts aside one American dollar, we will have 80 million American dollars, and we will reward anyone who brings us [Trump]’s head with that amount.
Not a great situation.
In case you missed it, Soleimani, who led Iran’s powerful and internationally influential Quds Force, was killed on Friday by a US drone strike in neighbouring Iraq.
US officials have accused Soleimani of coordinating with Iraqi-based militias to exert power in the region, which included strikes against US forces. The 62-year-old was also designated as a terrorist in 2011.
In a Friday press conference, Trump tried to justify the assassination as a pre-emptive strike to avoid potential attacks on American targets.
“Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel,” Trump said, “but we caught him in the act and terminated him.”
True to form, Trump has also defended the decision on Twitter – and threw in some threats of war in the process.
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2020
Despite long-running tensions, the move came as a shock to both nations, which have spent years wrestling for regional influence.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge for the strike, and even moderate figures in Iranian politics have criticised the Trump administration for the assassination of Soleimani, who has been credited with battering opposition ISIS forces in recent years.
What comes next is yet to be seen, but it’s probably not going to be great.