INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - As the situation in Iran develops following the missiles launched on Iraqi bases housing US soldiers and the killing of top Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Feisal Istrabadi, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, said where the death happened matters.
"I ain't mourning for him," Istrabadi said of the death of commander Qasem Soleimani. "I just wish for one thing they hadn't killed him in Iraq, but I also hope that the decision to kill him was accompanied by tremendous amount of thought of what the possible ramifications are, how to respond to them, what the response to that response will be and how to respond to that."
Istrabadi served as the former Deputy Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations from 2004 until 2007. He also served as the principal legal drafter of the Iraqi interim constitution in 2004.
Istrabadi is the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and a professor of practice at IU Bloomington. He is familiar with relationships in the Middle East.
"They fought a war in 1980 to 1988, a very brutal war, between Iran and Iraq," Istrabadi said. "So, there's a fraught history between Iraq and Iran. The general who was just assassinated Major General Solemaini was a young officer in that war."
Istrabadi said knowing the history between Iraq and Iran is important in understanding the impact of recent events in the Middle East.
"There are groups in Iraq, which during the years of the previous regime in Iraq, before the American intervention in Iraq in 2003, those groups, some of them, were housed in Iran and are very close to Iran," Istrabadi said. "They're now a part of the government of Iraq, but also they sort of have a foot in the government of Iraq and a foot outside the government and act as independent actors, independent of the government."
Istrabadi said this makes Iraq, in a sense, both allied with the US and with Iran.
"The assassination of Soleimani has sort of kicked this whole system and how that equilibrium re-establishes itself, and in which direction, we don't know," Istrabadi said.
Soleimani was killed on Iraqi soil on January 3.
"The Iranian general who was in the same car as the Iraqi general when the Americans attacked him, was killed," Istrabadi explained. "That Iraqi security general had personally been coordinating with senior American officers in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. It's a really, really messy situation."
Now, it is unknown how Iran will ultimately respond.
"This is not a happy situation," Istrabadi said. "It doesn't appear to me as though the administration has thought through the ramifications. I mean there's a reason previous administrations did not take out a senior Iranian military officer."