Hurd on the Hill: Iran is not a victim

Over the past week, you may have seen news coverage of the death of Qassem Soleimani and escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. The events that have unfolded over the last few weeks have made it even clearer that the Iranian regime and its proxies are the responsible parties for the escalation of tensions between our two countries. Iran is not a victim here; they are the culprits.

Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was the head of the most dangerous and well-armed terrorist organization in the world, and his death has removed a major terrorist leader from the battlefield. Taking him out was an appropriate response after all the hostile acts the Iranian government and its proxies have committed against the United States, including rocket attacks on American troops and an attempt to storm our embassy in Baghdad.

There was also clear intelligence showing that Soleimani was planning attacks against the United States in the coming days. Although this intelligence must remain classified as it deals with ongoing intelligence efforts, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said the intelligence was compelling, imminent and very clear in scale and scope. As an undercover CIA officer for nearly a decade who served in the Middle East, I know that the men and women of our intelligence community are diligent, and I trust their assessment of ongoing threats in the region.

During the Iraq War, Soleimani oversaw three camps in Iran where the groups he controlled trained and equipped proxy militias to attack U.S. military forces. These extremist fighters have killed more than 600 American soldiers. Within Iran, Soleimani and his colleagues worked with the Ayatollah to suppress freedom and economic opportunity, imprison those who speak out against the government, and kill innocent protesters in their own streets.

For those who are questioning the decision to kill Soleimani, I would ask: What is the alternative? Do nothing and fail to protect American lives and our shared interests with our Sunni Arab and Israeli partners? Let our embassy get attacked once more? Open our troops up to further attacks? To not support the Iranian people in their quest for freedom?

We also know well that although killing Soleimani was the right move, the Iranian regime’s reign of terror is not over. The Iranian government has made clear it is not a rational government that can come to the negotiating table, join the international community and benefit from peaceful relations.

Iran is still the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism. The Iranian regime for decades has purposefully antagonized and attacked the U.S. and our allies. On top of their attacks on other nations they have even attacked their own people. Just last month the Iranian government killed 1,500 of its own citizens who were peacefully protesting unarmed. They’ve also lied about their nuclear arsenal and benefitted monetarily from it.

While some are claiming the decision to remove Soleimani has made us less safe, the reality is quite the opposite. Taking Qassem Soleimani out of play was the right decision, and our South and West Texas communities, America, and the rest of the world are safer for it.


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