To the editor: Sen. Sullivan’s claim that “General Soleimani and the Iranian Quds Force ... have been responsible for the killing and wounding of thousands of U.S. service members” is a profound over-simplification and misleading. Quds Force military operations were allied with U.S. forces in the Liberation of Tikrit, Battle of Baiji, Liberation of Jurf Al Sakahar, Siege of Amirli, 2014 Northern Iraq Offensive and 2001 Battle of Herat. Sullivan is confusing and conflating the Quds forces with Hezbollah, which was led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and who was killed with Soleimani. Al-Muhandis was responsible for many American deaths. But al-Muhandis also led the Popular Mobilization Forces, an arm of the Iraqi government supported by the United States. Both the CIA and the Department of Defense opposed Trump designating the Quds Force a terrorist organization.
Hezbollah — supported by Shia Iran — is battling Saudi (Sunni)-backed terrorist groups such as ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaida, Hamas, etc. These Saudi-backed Sunni terrorist groups were responsible for 9/11 and continue to attack American military personnel. It would be very difficult to determine whether more American military personnel have been killed by Iranian-backed Shia terrorist groups or Saudi-backed Sunni terrorist groups. The death of Al-Muhandis may have been a legitimate target of American forces in Iraq. However, killing Soleimani would be more akin to killing Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan, the director general of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate. Both are equally responsible for the death of American military personnel, in roughly the same manner: i.e. support for terrorist groups that actually do the killing of American military personnel.
The real winners in these developments are Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are competing with Iran in a three-way multidimensional war for Middle East hegemony since the U.S. drawdown in Syria and Kurdish Iraq. While alignments in this area shift, Trump continues to direct America to do Russian and Saudi bidding. America doesn’t have an existential interest in this conflict. Sullivan’s lock-step recitation of Trump’s misleading talking points subvert America’s interests to Russian and Saudi Arabia’s interest and places American military lives at risk to do so.