Michael Ware is a former Time magazine and CNN correspondent who was based in Baghdad from 2003 to 2009.

(CNN)US President Donald Trump says he ordered the assassination on Friday of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, “to stop a war.” But that’s simply not true.

Rather than stop a war, Trump just called Tehran’s bluff and wagered all in with the single most daring American act in a conflict that’s been raging for years. No American president has ever taken the fight to Tehran like this. It’s bold. It’s provocative. And it could set the Middle East aflame — but it is most definitely not stopping a war. The coffins containing Qasem Soleimani and others killed in the US drone strike are carried in the city of Mashhad, Iran on Sunday.The coffins containing Qasem Soleimani and others killed in the US drone strike are carried in the city of Mashhad, Iran on Sunday.The coffins containing Qasem Soleimani and others killed in the US drone strike are carried in the city of Mashhad, Iran on Sunday.A decades-long warRead MoreWhy? Because the war between the United States of America and Iran has been underway for more than 40 years. None of this is a secret. It’s just that most Americans don’t know they’ve been at war with Iran. It’s been out of their sight and, so, out of their minds.Friday’s drone strike that took out Soleimani is but merely one more bump on a well-worn, long, and winding road of a conflict that’s been killing people for generations.It is a war with an origin story that dates all the way back to 1953. That’s when the Iranians believe America truly picked this fight. For, in 1953, the US staged a coup d’etat in Iran to take down a popular, secular and nationalist prime minister, only to put an indulgent monarch, known as the Shah, in charge.It’s that American coup that led to the 1979 revolution that placed an ayatollah on the throne and the rule of the mullahs still in power today. The very same mullahs that the now-dead General Soleimani served.When the Iranians revolted against the Shah, they overran the US Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of American diplomats and Marines hostage, parading them on international television, as seen in the 2012 Hollywood movie “Argo.”Exclusive: Iran's response to US will be military -- Khamenei's adviserExclusive: Iran's response to US will be military -- Khamenei's adviserExclusive: Iran's response to US will be military — Khamenei's adviserThat is when this war began. Not with this week’s drone strike.In 1983, Iran blew up a Marine barracks at the US Embassy in Beirut, killing dozens. President Ronald Reagan abandoned Lebanon and it appeared Iran had chased the US out of the region.That same year an Iraqi man called Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis car-bombed the US Embassy in Kuwait. Though he escaped, with Iran’s help, he was sentenced to death in absentia in Kuwait for the bombing. It’s believed he then went on to help hijack passenger planes.Western intelligence agencies also accuse him of involvement in the hijacking of a Kuwaiti airliner in 1984 and the attempted assassination of a Kuwaiti prince.Do you want to know who was in the same convoy as General Soleimani on Friday when that drone missile struck? It was that same car-bomber, al-Muhandis.Al-Muhandis, also known as Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, was twice elected to the democratic Iraqi Parliament the US created after the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein. He was Soleimani’s number one man in Iraq. In Parliament. Right under the noses of the US military.It was CNN who revealed al-Muhandis’ identity. At first, an unwitting US government did not believe CNN. But when the US government checked, and confirmed the bomber of their embassy was, in fact, in parliament, al-Muhandis fled Baghdad for the border crossing to Iran.Al-Muhandis was there to greet Soleimani on Friday at Baghdad airport in Iraq — a country the Iranian general virtually ran and controlled. Soleimani’s plane had just landed and he was with al-Muhandis in the convoy leaving the airport when the drone struck, killing them both.Mourners throng the car carrying the body of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani during a funeral procession for Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad on January 4.Mourners throng the car carrying the body of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani during a funeral procession for Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad on January 4. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalMourners throng the car carrying the body of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani during a funeral procession for Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad on January 4.Hide Caption 1 of 22Mourners touch a casket draped in Iranian flags during Qasem Soleimani's funeral procession on January 4.Mourners touch a casket draped in Iranian flags during Qasem Soleimani's funeral procession on January 4. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalMourners touch a casket draped in Iranian flags during Qasem Soleimani’s funeral procession on January 4.Hide Caption 2 of 22This photo, released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following the US airstrike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, on January 3.This photo, released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following the US airstrike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, on January 3. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalThis photo, released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following the US airstrike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, on January 3.Hide Caption 3 of 22People watch debris burn near the airport after the airstrike on January 3.People watch debris burn near the airport after the airstrike on January 3. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalPeople watch debris burn near the airport after the airstrike on January 3.Hide Caption 4 of 22Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters set a fire while US soldiers shoot tear gas during a demonstration outside the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 1.Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters set a fire while US soldiers shoot tear gas during a demonstration outside the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 1. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalPro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters set a fire while US soldiers shoot tear gas during a demonstration outside the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 1.Hide Caption 5 of 22A protester inspects the burnt-out entrance of the US Embassy on January 1.A protester inspects the burnt-out entrance of the US Embassy on January 1. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalA protester inspects the burnt-out entrance of the US Embassy on January 1.Hide Caption 6 of 22US Marines stand guard on the roof of the US Embassy while protesters demonstrate on Wednesday.US Marines stand guard on the roof of the US Embassy while protesters demonstrate on Wednesday. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalUS Marines stand guard on the roof of the US Embassy while protesters demonstrate on Wednesday.Hide Caption 7 of 22Protesters set fire to a reception room of the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday, December 31. The embassy was attacked during demonstrations in response to recent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria conducted by US forces.Protesters set fire to a reception room of the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday, December 31. The embassy was attacked during demonstrations in response to recent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria conducted by US forces. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalProtesters set fire to a reception room of the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday, December 31. The embassy was attacked during demonstrations in response to recent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria conducted by US forces.Hide Caption 8 of 22US Marines from a crisis response task force based in Kuwait prepare to deploy to Baghdad to bolster security at the embassy. US Marines from a crisis response task force based in Kuwait prepare to deploy to Baghdad to bolster security at the embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalUS Marines from a crisis response task force based in Kuwait prepare to deploy to Baghdad to bolster security at the embassy. Hide Caption 9 of 22A US Army Apache helicopter drops flares over Baghdad in a show of force.A US Army Apache helicopter drops flares over Baghdad in a show of force. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalA US Army Apache helicopter drops flares over Baghdad in a show of force.Hide Caption 10 of 22Protesters carry the logo of the US Embassy.Protesters carry the logo of the US Embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalProtesters carry the logo of the US Embassy.Hide Caption 11 of 22Smoke billows from a sentry box at an entrance of the embassy.Smoke billows from a sentry box at an entrance of the embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalSmoke billows from a sentry box at an entrance of the embassy.Hide Caption 12 of 22Protesters throw stones toward the embassy.Protesters throw stones toward the embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalProtesters throw stones toward the embassy.Hide Caption 13 of 22US soldiers take positions around the embassy during the protests.US soldiers take positions around the embassy during the protests. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalUS soldiers take positions around the embassy during the protests.Hide Caption 14 of 22Protesters burn property in front of the embassy compound.Protesters burn property in front of the embassy compound. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalProtesters burn property in front of the embassy compound.Hide Caption 15 of 22People are seen through thick tear gas after protesters breached the outer wall of the embassy.People are seen through thick tear gas after protesters breached the outer wall of the embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalPeople are seen through thick tear gas after protesters breached the outer wall of the embassy.Hide Caption 16 of 22A picture taken through a broken window shows a vandalized room in the embassy.A picture taken through a broken window shows a vandalized room in the embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalA picture taken through a broken window shows a vandalized room in the embassy.Hide Caption 17 of 22US soldiers stand guard inside the embassy.US soldiers stand guard inside the embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalUS soldiers stand guard inside the embassy.Hide Caption 18 of 22Protesters and militia fighters smash the bullet-proof glass of the embassy's windows with blocks of cement after breaching the outer wall.Protesters and militia fighters smash the bullet-proof glass of the embassy's windows with blocks of cement after breaching the outer wall. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalProtesters and militia fighters smash the bullet-proof glass of the embassy’s windows with blocks of cement after breaching the outer wall.Hide Caption 19 of 22Iraqi security forces stand guard as protesters, including clerics, hold a prayer inside the walls of the embassy.Iraqi security forces stand guard as protesters, including clerics, hold a prayer inside the walls of the embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalIraqi security forces stand guard as protesters, including clerics, hold a prayer inside the walls of the embassy.Hide Caption 20 of 22Iraqi security forces stand guard at the entrance of embassy.Iraqi security forces stand guard at the entrance of embassy. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalIraqi security forces stand guard at the entrance of embassy.Hide Caption 21 of 22Mourners carry the coffins of Iranian-backed paramilitary fighters in Najaf, Iraq, on December 31. The fighters were killed in US airstrikes on Sunday that sparked Tuesday's attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad.Mourners carry the coffins of Iranian-backed paramilitary fighters in Najaf, Iraq, on December 31. The fighters were killed in US airstrikes on Sunday that sparked Tuesday's attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad. Photos: US airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran's top generalMourners carry the coffins of Iranian-backed paramilitary fighters in Najaf, Iraq, on December 31. The fighters were killed in US airstrikes on Sunday that sparked Tuesday’s attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad.Hide Caption 22 of 2203 soleimani funderal 010402 soleimani funeral 0104 RESTRICTED01 us airstrike baghdad airport 010305 baghdad airport us strike07 baghdad us embassy protest 010105 baghdad us embassy protest 010103 baghdad us embassy protest 010101 us embassy iraq protest02 us embassy iraq protest 123103 us embassy iraq protest 123104 us embassy iraq protest 123105 us embassy iraq protest 123106 us embassy iraq protest 123107 us embassy iraq protest 123108 us embassy iraq protest 123109 us embassy iraq protest 123110 us embassy iraq protest 123111 us embassy iraq protest 123112 us embassy iraq protest 123113 us embassy iraq protest 123114 us embassy iraq protest 123115 us embassy iraq protest 1231A killer, but not a terroristMake no mistake, Soleimani was a killer. A calculating, patient, sophisticated killer. He was, most surely, plotting the deaths of many Americans. But, despite what President Trump says, he was no terrorist. He sponsored them. He trained them. He armed them. But Soleimani was a military man to his bootstraps.He fought in the horror of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. The modern world’s version of World War I; chemical gas attacks, suicidal human wave assaults, and a bloodletting we should hope the world never sees again.Soleimani rose up the ranks of the military until he came to head, arguably, the most elite special forces outfit in the region, if not the world, called the Quds Force, which translates as the Jerusalem Force. Iran has two armies, navies and air forces. One, to protect the country. The other, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Force (IRGC), to protect the country’s religious revolution. And among the IRGC the Quds are the elite of the elite. Its members speak multiple languages. Pompeo backs Trump's threats to Iran as US braces for possible retaliationPompeo backs Trump's threats to Iran as US braces for possible retaliationPompeo backs Trump's threats to Iran as US braces for possible retaliationThey are spies, soldiers and technical experts. In Western terms, they are a hybrid of Green Berets, SAS commandos and Delta Force operators all fused into one. And Soleimani was their commander. For more than 20 years.And he ran rings around all of us: Americans, Arabs, Israelis, Brits. Let us be very, very clear: this man was opposed to America and absolutely everything it stands for. He ached to destroy Israel itself, to take it out of existence, and he was opposed to the current balance of power in the Middle East.His entire life was devoted to bringing all of it, and us, down.If you doubt Soleimani’s significance, his very assassination should tell you differently. Washington understood his value, that is why President Trump ordered the drone strike. Soleimani did more to shape then re-shape the region than any king or prince or sultan or president or prime minister.The man, quite simply, was a force of history.He just wasn’t on our side.Will his assassination alter Iran’s strategic ambitions? No. Will it slow them down? Maybe.

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/05/opinions/us-iran-history-ware-intl/index.html

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