Crowds swarm Tehran to mourn slain Iran military leader Soleimani
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said at a parliamentary session on Sunday that he was scheduled to meet with Qasem Soleimani on the morning the top Iranian general was killed.
Mahdi said Soleimani was supposed to carry a message from Iran “in response to the Saudi message that we brought to Iran in order to reach important agreements and situations regarding Iraq and the region.”
Mahdi said he was optimistic after a visit to Saudi Arabia in September 2019 that Baghdad had a plan to open dialogue between Riyadh and Tehran to calm tensions in the region, according to an interview on state-run TV station al-Iraqiya.
Following Mahdi's speech at Parliament Sunday, Shia-majority blocs in the session chanted in support of Soleimani, and against the US and Israel.
Watch CNN's Nic Robertson explain:
Over the weekend, antiwar activists and protesters marched in major cities across the United States, including New York and Washington.
In the nation's capital, they demonstrated outside the White House and the Trump International Hotel, holding signs that read "US out of Iraq" and "No war with Iran."
In New York, protesters gathered in Times Square. "Use our taxes for schools, not for war," one sign read. Others painted peace signs on their faces and held posters decrying American imperialism.
“I’m here to take a stand against war because I have grown up in the last two decades with endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Mandy Ti, who marched in New York.
"The consequences of another, likely larger, war cannot be predicted or underestimated. I have family in the military and don’t want them in harm’s way for the whims of the president," she told CNN.
Smaller protests were also held in North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and other states.
The sun has risen in Tehran, setting a golden glow on the buildings, and the streets are full of mourners dressed in black.
Music is blaring and the crowds are chanting as the funeral procession gets underway. Gen. Qasem Soleimani's body arrived in the city on Sunday, and will now be carried to Azadi Square on the shoulders of supporters.
His body will rest in a shrine in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, before arriving in its final resting place in Soleimani's hometown of Kerman.
People at the funeral procession are holding portraits of Soleimani and waving Iranian flags. Some are carrying anti-US signs that read "Down with the USA."
Soleimani was revered and beloved in Iran, and the country has declared three days of national mourning.
Late Sunday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter stating that the House of Representatives will introduce and vote on a war powers resolution to limit President Trump’s military actions regarding Iran.
The statement said:
As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.
This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. This resolution is similar to the resolution introduced by Senator Tim Kaine in the Senate. It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days."
Pelosi reiterated that the killing of Soleimani “endangered our service members, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.”
Editor's note: Michael Ware is a former Time magazine and CNN correspondent who was based in Baghdad from 2003 to 2009. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.
President Donald Trump says he ordered the killing of Iranian 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.
Decades-long war: The war between the United States of America and Iran dates all the way back to 1953, when the US staged a coup d'etat in Iran to take down a popular, secular and nationalist prime minister.
This coup then 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 Soleimani served.
When the Iranians revolted, they overran the US Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of American diplomats and Marines hostage, as seen in the 2012 movie "Argo."
That is when this war began. Not with this week's drone strike.
Soleimani's significance: Soleimani did more to shape then re-shape the region than any king, prince, sultan, president, or prime minister.
For more than 20 years, he commanded the Quds Force -- arguably, the most elite special forces outfit in the region, if not the world. They 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.
Washington understood his value -- that is why Trump ordered the drone strike.
Will his assassination alter Iran's strategic ambitions? No. But will it slow them down? Maybe.
Posting on Twitter Sunday, President Trump appeared to declare that his tweets were enough to notify Congress of any US military action -- which led to swift criticism from Democrats.
Trump tweeted: "These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!"
The Democratic-led House Foreign Affairs committee shot back at Trump's post in their own tweet Sunday night, stating, "This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you're not a dictator."
The War Powers Act: It states that when US armed forces abroad are "substantially enlarge(d)" without a war declaration, "the President shall submit within 48 hours ... a report, in writing" to the House Speaker and to the President pro tempore of the Senate.
It's been three days since President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Tensions are running high, with Iran promising revenge, Iraqi lawmakers pushing to expel US troops from the country, world leaders pleading for peace, and protests in several nations.
If you're just joining us now, here's what you need to know:
- The airstrike: A drone strike on Friday killed Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. It also killed Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
- The US argument: The Trump administration claims it killed Soleimani in response to an "imminent threat" to American lives. The administration has not yet shared the intelligence surrounding the threat, but Trump said he "may discuss" releasing some of that information.
- The response from Iran: Iranian officials called the strike an act of terrorism and war, and vowed that "harsh revenge awaits the criminals" who killed Soleimani. Thousands have flooded into the streets for anti-US protests and prayers in mourning of Soleimani, who was revered as a national hero.
- The response from Iraq: Iraq is also furious -- the strike happened on its soil, and killed an Iraqi leader. The Iraqi Parliament voted earlier today to push the government to expel US troops. Protests have also been happening for days in Iraqi cities.
- The response in the US: Republicans have almost uniformly supported the airstrike and thanked Trump for standing up for America, while Democrats expressed concern over whether the action was justified. Anti-war protests also took place in major cities like New York and Washington.
What to expect today: The funeral procession for Soleimani is continuing Monday in Iran, after his body arrived in the capital, Tehran. His body will be carried by supporters, placed in a shrine, and then finally be laid to rest in his hometown of Kerman.
US Customs and Border Protection has denied claims on social media that Iranian Americans were being detained and refused entry to the United States over the weekend.
A series of social media posts claimed that Iranian Americans had been held for extended periods of time at a port of entry in Blaine, Washington, at the Canadian border.
In one post that was shared more than 24,000 times, activists claimed that CBP had been "ordered" to detain "all Iranians entering the country deemed potentially suspicious."
"Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the US because of their country of origin are false. Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false," CBP press secretary Matt Leas said in a statement Sunday.
The agency said that "based on the current threat environment, CBP is operating with an enhanced posture at its ports of entry to safeguard our national security and protect the American people while simultaneously protecting the civil rights and liberties of everyone."
US officials will meet with their Iraqi counterparts on Monday and Tuesday in Washington, with the two countries' relationship under strain.
- Last week, US officials were extremely angry during discussions with Iraqi officials -- protesters tried to storm the US embassy in Baghdad.
- Now, the tables have turned -- Iraqis are furious about the US airstrike at the Baghdad airport, which killed Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani.
- The mood in Iraq: Many are angry that the strike happened on Iraqi soil, and that the country has once again become a battleground for the US-Iran conflict. Some also fear that Soleimani's killing will inadvertently fuel extremism rather than subduing it.
- Vote on US troops: The Iraqi Parliament voted earlier today to obligate the government to remove all foreign troops in the country -- a clear rebuke of the US. In response, Trump said he would sanction Iraq "like "never seen before" if the troops were expelled.
- Withheld intelligence: The Trump administration said it had prevented an "imminent threat" posed by Soleimani. The US has not shared the intelligence surrounding this threat, despite requests for information from Iraqi officials, according to sources familiar with the discussions.