General Qassem Soleimani was the head of Iran's elite Quds force.
Qassem Soleimani: What's Next for A Region in Turmoil?
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Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” after a U.S. airstrike Thursday killed General Qassem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top military commanders. The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he was actively planning attacks on U.S. diplomats and service members. According to the Trump administration, Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed because he was actively planning attacks on U.S. diplomats and service members. The administration has produced few details about Iran being an “imminent” threat. Soleimani has been blamed for attacks on U.S. troops and American allies going back decades. Iran has vowed to retaliate, raising fears of an all-out war. Watch the video and answer the questions. If time allows, read U.S. kills Iran’s most powerful general in Baghdad airstrike or Iran general’s killing triggers global alarm.
Earlier last week, supporters of the Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah staged a 24-hour sit-in, scaled the U.S. embassy walls in Baghdad, Iraq and broke the reception area’s windows. They demanded the U.S. close the embassy and withdraw its more than 5,000 troops from Iraq.
Protestors were responding to U.S. airstrikes on Dec. 29th against members of the same militia. The U.S. blames the group for killing an American military contractor and attacking U.S. bases in Iraq 11 times in the last two months.
On Saturday, hundreds of U.S. troops were deployed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Kuwait to serve as reinforcements in the Middle East amid rising tensions following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.
Demonstrators in dozens of cities around the U.S. gathered Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s killing of an Iranian general and decision to send thousands of additional soldiers to the Middle East.
On Sunday, Iran said Sunday it would no longer follow any of the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal with other countries after Soleimani’s death. In May 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement. Iran’s announcement meant it will no longer abide by the deal’s key provisions that blocked it from gathering enough material to build a nuclear weapon.
Qassem Soleimani: The Trump Administration Reaction
Trump tweeted Saturday that if Iran attacks any American assets in response to Soleimani’s death, the U.S. has 52 targets across the Islamic Republic that “WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.” Some are “important to Iran & Iranian culture,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deflected questions whether targeting cultural sites violates international law on Sunday morning news shows. On CBS last week, Pompeo blamed the Iranian government for the upswell in violence, calling it “Iranian-backed terrorism that took place that threatened American interests.”
Qassem Soleimani: Iran's Reaction
Iran has vowed swift retaliation. “I am telling Americans, especially Trump, we will take a revenge that will change their daylight into to a nighttime darkness,” said the cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami.
On Monday, Tehran’s streets were packed with thousands of mourners following the funeral of Soleimani. Mourners pointed out that Soleimani helped defeat ISIS and others shouted “Down with the USA” and “Death to the USA.”
Members of Hezbollah (Iranian-backed armed Islamist group based in Lebanon) and their supporters gathered on Sunday in Beirut, Lebanon, to mourn the death of Suleimani.
Qassem Soleimani: Discussion Questions
- Focus question: What would a potential war with Iran mean?
- Who was General Qassem Soleimani? (if time allows, watch video here)
- What is the Trump administration’s justification for killing Soleimani?
- What has the reaction been in Iran and in the Middle East on Soleimani’s death?
- Congress didn’t vote on approving the attack on Soleimani. What is Congress’ role in approving such attacks?
- What is the relationship between Iran and the United States?
- How do you think the U.S. should proceed at this point in time?
- The thought of war can be very frightening. If you are upset or worried, who are a couple of people you can share your feelings with?
- Media literacy: Be sure to check out a few other news websites (i.e. Fox, CNN, Young Turks, Washington Post, Al Jazeera) in order to get various perspectives on the killing of General Soleimani. What similarities or differences do you see in how these news outlets report the situation in Iraq and potential conflict with Iran? Why is it important to check reports from a few different news organizations?
Qassem Soleimani: Extension Activities
If time allows, read the article that best suits your class:
- Protests across US condemn action in Iran and Iraq
- Trump’s threats draw Iran’s cultural sites into tensions
- More US troops deploy to Mideast amid tensions with Iran
- U.S. kills Iran’s most powerful general in Baghdad airstrike
- Why the U.S. military targeted Qassam Soleimani — and how Iran might react: How is Iran likely to react to the American military strike that killed top general Qassam Soleimani — and how well prepared is the U.S. to withstand that response? Media literacy: What questions would you ask the two guests? Are there differences in the two men’s perspectives? Did you notice any bias in the segment?
- Take a look at this video for a recap of what happened leading up to the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.