By Javad Heirannia

Iranians view the killing of Soleimani as an act of war: Paul Pillar

January 5, 2020 - 12:12

TEHRAN – Professor Paul Pillar, who was CIA intelligence analyst for 28 years, tells that Trump often does not understand the nature and consequences of his own actions.

Pillar says “Iranians view the killing of Soleimani as an act of war.  Trump probably views it as an act short of war.”  

He also adds that “President Trump's domestic political standing figures into almost everything he does, including in foreign and security policy. It is quite possible that one of his considerations in ordering the assassination was to provide a distraction from his domestic political problems, and to exploit the widespread antipathy toward Iran that is frequently voiced in American political debate.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: The United States assassinated General Qasem Soleimani in an act ordered by President Donald Trump. By doing so, the United States appears to have raised tensions with Iran to avoid impeachment so that it can marginalize U.S. domestic affairs. What is your assessment?

A: President Trump's domestic political standing figures into almost everything he does, including in foreign and security policy. It is quite possible that one of his considerations in ordering the assassination was to provide a distraction from his domestic political problems, and to exploit the widespread antipathy toward Iran that is frequently voiced in American political debate. But it also is likely that Trump was responding to hardline pressures within his own administration to strike at Iran in some way, following the assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad by Iraqi elements allied with Iran.  

Q: U.S. Action on Assassination of General Soleimani On the other hand, it shows that the war with Iran is important for the U.S. at the present moment. What is your assessment?

A: President Trump is telling the truth when he says he does not want more wars in the Middle East, including against Iran.  But Trump often does not understand the nature and consequences of his own actions.  Iranians view the killing of Soleimani as an act of war.  Trump probably views it as an act short of war. 

Q: What is your assessment of Iran's response to this, given the message of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who announced that he would take tough revenge on the U.S.?

A: Iran certainly will strike back forcefully--not just because of what the Supreme Leader said, but because of how prominent a figure Soleimani was for Iranians generally.  Iran will strike back in ways and at times of its own choosing, but this may include attempts to assassinate a U.S. public figure with standing in the United States comparable to the standing Soleimani had in Iran.

Q: The UN Special reporter described the assassination of General Soleimani as a violation of international law. What is your assessment?

A: It is hard to argue against that description, given that the assassination involved an armed attack inside Iraq, against Iranian and Iraqi citizens, without the involvement or permission of the Iraqi government.
 

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