We now have apparent confirmation that the U.S. mounted a retaliatory raid on a convoy in Iraq (unclear whether it’s a drone attack or missiles) that killed a leader of the Iraqi militia that menaced the U.S. Embassy and critically also killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. There is apparent confirmation of Soleimani’s death on Iraqi TV. I don’t believe we have clear confirmation that this was a U.S. strike. But it’s hard to know who else would be in any position to have done it. It’s a chaotic and developing story. Perhaps new reports will change the picture. But it seems pretty clear that Soleimani is dead.
I hesitate to comment more than simply to say that this is a massive, massive escalation of the confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. Soleimani is a very important figure in Iran. People will disagree about the wisdom of this action or its eventual consequences. But this is a big, big deal — a pandora’s box type escalation with consequences that are hard to predict.