As a result of the American special operation, the commander of the special unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “Al-Quds” General Kasem Suleimani was killed. The assassination order was personally ordered by President Trump. So the U.S. responded to the recent assault of its embassy in Baghdad. In Tehran promised to brutally avenge those involved in the murder. How serious will the retaliation be and will the war between the United States and Iran begin?
Lt. Gen. Kasem Suleimani and the deputy head of the Iraqi militia, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who invited a high-ranking military officer to Baghdad, were killed as a convoy of vehicles moved from the capital’s airport. U.S. aircraft fired at least four missiles at two motorcade vehicles. At the time of impact, the cars were near the cargo terminal. Other missiles hit military installations of the Iraqi army and the international coalition.
In addition to Suleimani and al-Muhandis, at least 10 people were killed, who were also in the motorcade.
Hours after news of Suleimani’s assassination emerged, Ali Khamenei appointed Brigadier General Esmail Kaani, “who is one of the preeminent commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps during the holy defenses. Iran-Iraq War).”
However, Rajab Safarov, director-general of the Center for the Study of Modern Iran, called Suleimani a large-scale and legendary personality, which is “absolutely impossible to replace.” The political scientist considers the incident “the most striking act of international terrorism on the part of the United States.”
“There is no personality of such a gigantic scale in Iran’s military structures. Suleimani was a very well-read man, a philosopher. His humanitarian views were particularly appealing. He is a real peacemaker of the world scale,” Safarov said.
The interlocutor believes that now the general will be considered the most important shahid in Iran, he will be elevated to the rank of a modern prophet, because he was “the brightest and most authoritative man not only in Iran but also in other countries of the Middle East, where there is pro-Iranian mood.” “Suleimani had a balance in the Middle East. He always tried to prevent a lot of blood,” the expert recalled. Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian Council for International Affairs (RSMD), called Suleimani an outstanding person and a major organizer. “He was the leader of the most conservative forces in the Iranian elite. The elimination of Suleimani is a spectacular way to send a message to everyone: Democrats who have accused Trump of inaction, and American partners in the Middle East, especially the Gulf, that “we haven’t forgotten about you.” This is a signal to Iran that any escalation on the part of Tehran, especially if the lives of Americans are put at risk, as it was the other day in Baghdad, the country will face a serious rebuff. And as Trump himself said, this is a signal to the Iraqis: there is hope that it will be possible to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq a little bit,” Kortunov said.
The Al-Quds Battalion, one of the most capable parts of the IRGC, is actively involved in military conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The effectiveness of the special unit was largely determined by Suleimani’s abilities. The Popular Mobilization Forces (Al-Hashd al-Shaabi) are a coalition of Shiite, Yazidi and Christian militias fighting alongside the Iraqi government against Islamic State militants.
The Pentagon reminded that Suleimani was on the American list of foreign terrorists. The ministry said the Iranian general was alleged: “actively working on plans to attack U.S. diplomats and military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.” In addition, Suleimani “approved the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.”
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the attack on the U.S. Embassy al-Muhandis. On Friday, Pompeo said on Twitter that Iraqis were happy with Suleimani’s murder. “Iraqis are Iraqis! – dancing in the streets in support of freedom. They are grateful that General Suleimani is gone,” Pompeo wrote.
At the same time, the State Department called on Americans to leave Iraq immediately because of the increased tensions in the country. A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq said that “U.S. citizens must leave the country by plane if possible” or head to other countries by land.
Trump’s political opponents in the U.S. Democratic Party have said that a war will break out in the region. The U.S. Congress was not aware of the special operation, although it should be notified within 48 hours.
It should be noted that the sharp aggravation of the situation in the Middle East occurred on December 29 after a US missile strike on allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Iraq. Following that, on December 31, hundreds of demonstrators stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and a fire broke out. As a result, the American ambassador “left Iraq in an unknown direction.” Trump said Iran was behind the attack and vowed to punish Tehran. In response, Iran threatened to “strike a heavy blow to whoever threatens Iranian interests.”
Rajab Safarov is convinced that now Trump “will be afraid for his life for the rest of his life” because by ordering the elimination of Suleimani “he elevated America to the rank of the irreconcilable enemy of the Iranian people
and showed that there are no laws of international law for the United States.” “I know that dozens of groups are ready to personally take revenge on Mr. Trump. They will not rest until they reach their goal. America is now sleeping, and Trump feels like a hero because he eliminated the most famous general in the Middle East. But this bravado will end in the next hours or maximum of days,” Safarov said.
According to him, now not only regional but also world security is under great question. “If earlier only a part of the population of Iran looked at the United States with distrust and hatred, now it is a national contempt. Now the Iranian government has a problem of how to manage this people’s tsunami, which can cause a chaotic reaction in all directions and the process will be uncontrollable,” Safarov warned.
The expert believes that the world is on the verge of a great war and there is a threat of great bloodshed in the Middle East. In retaliation, Iran could strike Israel, “which provided the Americans with information about the location of pro-Iranian forces in Iraq” or the oil arteries of the Persian Gulf. Against the background of these proposals, world oil prices have already soared by 4%. Tehran can also punish “U.S. accomplices in the Persian Gulf Arab countries” or attack U.S. military bases in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. “It will be a long-term answer. The U.S. will find it very difficult to stay in the region and help the Gulf countries because it is clear that now they are all standing on their ears and with a tremor in their voice waiting for Iran’s response. Many states and even different regions may be involved in this process,” Safarov predicts.
Moscow called Suleimani’s killing an adventurous step that could lead to increased tensions throughout the region. According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the general “dedicatedly served the cause of protecting Iran’s national interests.” “We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people,” the Foreign Ministry added.
Safarov is convinced that Russia should condemn the murder of Suleimani in the strongest possible way and make urgent contact with the Iranian leadership to try to soften Tehran’s response and prevent the worst-case scenario from developing. “As a member of the UN Security Council, Russia must respond to this blatant fact of international terrorism,” Rajab Safarov said.
Andrei Kortunov is convinced that Trump does not need a military conflict with Iran, because “in his personal philosophy he is against wars.” “Getting into a serious war with Iran on the eve of the presidential election is a gift to the Democrats. Such a war cannot be short, it is an inevitable major loss. Iran is a powerful regional power that has been preparing for such a war for a long time. We don’t have to count on an easy victory,” Kortunov said.
The political scientist suggested that the president’s decision to liquidate Suleimani was influenced by the demonstrative display of force, which is attributed to Iran in the West. First of all, it is a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman and strikes by the Houthis on oil refineries in Saudi Arabia. “Iran, of course, denies involvement. Russia also does not confirm this, but there is a belief in the West that either the Iranians did it directly, or it is operated by some pro-Iranian forces, that is, Tehran is responsible for these cases. And Trump reacted to all this only by political means. There were condemnations, there was an increase in sanctions pressure on Iran, but the opposition reproached the president for not being ready to fight back. Trump has also been criticized by conservative Gulf monarchies, wondering what the U.S. security guarantees are? That is, Trump needed to demonstrate toughness,” Kortunov said.