Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has stated in an interview with Al-Alam TV that the US assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani almost a year ago because the Quds Force leader ruined US plans "to change the identity of the region".
"Soleimani and [Deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Committee] Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis succeeded in stopping more than one scheme for changing the region, which bothered the Americans a lot", Al-Maliki said.
Al-Maliki went on to call Soleimani's murder by the US a "heinous crime" pointing out that Washington violated Iraq's sovereignty and targeted "a great and dear guest to Iraq and the Iraqis" with its strike, which also claimed the life of the Deputy Chairman of the Popular Mobilisation Forces political branch, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, who accompanied the Iranian general. The ex-Iraqi prime minister also compared American actions to behaviour typical of gangsters and not a state chanting "slogans of freedom and democracy".
The former Iraqi head of the government called on the country's authorities to thoroughly investigate the killing of Soleimani and determine if someone in Baghdad had aided the US in this crime. He pointed out that it's unclear how Washington learned where Soleimani would be on the day of his assassination.
Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani was leaving Baghdad International Airport on 3 January, when the US Air Force fired a missile at the car carrying him and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, killing both. Soleimani had arrived there on a secret diplomatic mission to convey a message to Saudi Arabia via Iraqi authorities as Tehran sought to re-establish diplomatic relations with Riyadh.
Iraqi authorities were notified about the strike only after the operation was over. The country's parliament strongly condemned the US and adopted a non-binding resolution demanding the removal of all foreign troops from the country. While Washington did reduce its military presence there, a small contingent of troops is still stationed in Iraq.
Iran, in turn, promised to avenge Soleimani's death, conducting an airstrike on two military bases in Iraq hosting American troops within weeks of the Quds Force leader's death. Tehran, however, promised this was not the last act of revenge on its part and that more will come unless the US withdraws its forces from the region.