Iran-US: Global regional implications after Qassem Soleimani death
Amid the wailing and the weeping, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei led the parting prayers. He himself broke down midway through the prayers but vowed severe revenge for the death of his general.
In a message on Friday, the Ayatollah said, “Iran will take tough revenge on the criminals who killed the top Iranian general.”
While Iran has promised retaliation, an unwavering US threatened to “quickly and fully strike back”
“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any US person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Sunday.
On Friday, the massive destruction that followed the US missile attack led to the killing of two important leaders, Soleimani, head of IRGC’s elite Quds Force and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi), an Iran-backed umbrella organisation comprising several militias. The only identification was the ring with embedded with a red stone on a severed hand. The Iranians confirmed that their general was killed in the attack.
They were leaving Baghdad airport in two cars when they were hit by a US drone strike near a cargo area. Several missiles struck the convoy and at least seven people reportedly died.
Soleimani was critical to Iran’s West Asia policy and rode the Iraq, Syria action against the US forces. As commander of elite special forces, he orchestrated covert operations, involving a web of proxy militias, across the region.
Secretary Pompeo on Sunday said to a US news network, “We understand the obligation to share with the American people why it is we’re taking the action we can and we will do so…President Trump has done so in tweets. I have done so in messages.
While US says it may discuss” releasing the intelligence that led to the strike on Soleimani, the repercussions of this would have far reaching impact on the region and the globe.
President Trump has also threatened to strike 52 Iranian sites should Iran strike “any Americans or American assets,”
In a tweet Trump wrote, ….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!
But, that has not gone down well in many international and domestic quarters who have said that such action would amount to war crimes.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren not only questioned the attacks by US but also questioned the timing of the targeted killing
“You are threatening to commit war crimes,” Warren said.
She added, “I think that the question that we ought to focus on is why now? Why not a month ago and why not a month from now? And the answer from the administration seems to be that they can’t keep their story straight on this.”
President Trump’s Stars and Stripes’ tweet after the military action points to the nationalistic agenda that would be the focal point of the US presidential elections around the corner.
The action would have serious implications. To start with, Iran has said it will no longer abide by any terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, lifting restrictions on centrifuges, uranium enrichment and more.
This could lead to nuclear uncertainty causing instability that would be hard to contain.
Any action in the Straits of Hormuz could impact global energy supplies which would be detrimental to already dwindling economies including that of India.
A Director at a think-tank ORF, Harsh Pant said, This is a dramatic escalation in what was already a tense situation between US and Iran. By targeting a very iconic figure in the military establishment of Iran, US has really raised stakes for Iran to respond. Their response will come in different ways which would be unpredictable. It raises tensions to the extent that most stakeholders, including India, would not have wanted.
While retaliation by militiaman in Iraq has begun with the US embassy and the Balad airbase coming under rocket fire for the past tow days, the Iraqi government has raised concerns of violation of the sovereignty by US.
On Sunday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and his parliament voted in favor of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country.
“As a prime minister and supreme commander of the armed forces, I call for adopting the first choice,” Abdul-Mahdi said.
But, Trump has asked Iraq to compensate Washington for building of the Balad airbase before thinking of evicting the American forces.
The brinkmanship is only making world leaders jittery with many, including the UN, calling for peace in the region. This even as the world waits to see what Iran’s conventional response to US action is going to be.