Iran after Soleimani

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Okaz

The liquidation of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, in an American drone attack is to be considered as a dramatic shift in the rules of military confrontation between Washington and Tehran. It was, in part, a response to safeguard the dignity of the American army and the American arms, after the Iranian Revolutionary Guards shot down the American MQ-4C Triton over the Strait of Hormuz last June.

The rules of confrontation may have changed, specifically after the red line was crossed with the killing of an American contractor at an international coalition base near Kirkuk. US President Donald Trump did not respond to Iran’s shooting down of the American plane, on the pretext that there were no American victims, and that the proposed response would be exceeding proper bounds as it could entail victims from the Iranian side.

The Iranian regime realized about this approach off late, and that was clear from the statement of the chief spokesman of the Iranian Army Staff Brig. Abu Al-Fadl Shukharji when he stated “Iran will refrain from any hasty retaliation,” in response to the killing of Soleimani in an attack at Baghdad airport, after his arrival from Damascus.

After targeting the international coalition base and assassinating and wounding several American and Iraqi soldiers, it was a real test for the American administration and its adherence to not respond militarily to Iran’s provocations. This was after taking into consideration of the factors that affect taking of such a decision, the most important of which was the emergence of the election year and the intensification of the standoff with the Democrats, especially in the American Congress.

Perhaps Iran has failed to read the intention behind Washington’s dispatch of soldiers to several places in the region, especially after targeting the Saudi oil facilities of Abqaiq and Khurais, as a step in preparation for a military response and raising the state of alertness towards Iranian moves in the region. The US repeated the exercise by sending soldiers to the American embassy after the premises were stormed by the Popular Mobilization Forces or Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi in response to Washington’s bombing of Hezbollah bases located on the Syrian border.

And it seems the liquidation of Soleimani would be beneficial to President Trump in his electoral battle, firstly as a revenge for the assassination of an American citizen, and secondly, as a preemptive strike against targeting of American sites in Iraq and the region that Soleimani was planning, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who conveyed a clear message with attributing the Iranian presence at present in Iraq to the ineffective handling of the issue by the administrations of not only Barack Obama but also that of George W. Bush.

Iran believes that military escalation is the only alternative to surrendering to the terms of Pompeo in response to the stifling economic sanctions. These sanctions have exceeded their impact on Iran domestically and began to afflict Iran’s militias in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen at a time when Iraq has become a single stage of conflict between the two parties.

Iran, despite its escalation against American targets in Iraq or Gulf targets and oil tankers, has been keen to avoid escalation against Israel, especially on the Syrian, Lebanese and Gaza grounds. The loss of Iraq would be a fall for all of Iranian expansion project, and it is not governed primarily by its conflict with Washington, but by the steadfastness of the demonstrators since last October against the Iranian killing machine.


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