Late Thursday evening, it was reported that United States Forces had killed Qasem Soleimani, perhaps the most important military commanders for Iran.
Since 1998 Soleimani has been the leader of the Quds Force, the most effective guerrilla force in Iran.For over 20 years Soleimani has been perhaps the most effective leader in Iran's effort to project power in the Middle East.
He has been involved in many of the most important battles in that region, and yet he has done it all under-cover. With little recognition from the outside world. In Iran, this has gained him the nick-name the shadow commander.
But make no mistake, Soleimani has been a vital operational general for the Iranian. Soleimani took personal control of the Iranian intervention in the Syrian Civil War, where he was a staunch supporter of Bashier Al Assad.Soleimani is considered by most to have been the deciding factor in the battle for Aleppo.
And most telling, he was the leader of the forces which opposed the Americans in Fallujah. And the Americans still hold Soleimani responsible for the loss of life of US Soldiers there.
None of this has gone unnoticed at the international level. Back as far as 2007 the United Nation's Security Council Resolution 1747 designated Qasam Soleimani as a terrorist, and prohibited him from traveling outside of Iran.In 2011 Soleimani was sanctioned by the United States as a known terrorist.
And yet again on April 9th of this year, President Trump specifically designated the Quds force, under the leadership of Soleimani, as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
With this background, it becomes understandable that the Americans considered Soleimani's presence in Iraq a direct threat to the US presence in the region.To find him traveling in Iraq, in violation of United Nation's Sanctions, and in contravention of US State Policy was clearly a provocation.
On top of that this was just days after an attack on the US Embassy in Iraq, and with US intelligence indicating that a major anti-American the operation was about to begin.
Wall Street's reaction was predictable: equity markets fell sharply, futures off more than 300 points earlier. As it was “Risk off” on the Street. Conversely, safety was the new objective with both bonds and gold gaining a big bid.
How this plays out over the next couple of days will be interesting to watch. Already it appears that Wall Street is beginning to settle down from the more frantic pace last night. But one thing is certain: a designated enemy of the United States has been removed from further operation.