The assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by a US airstrike in Baghdad is a turning point in the Middle East geopolitics. Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated dramatically placing the entire region onto the brink of war.
The US was quick to confirm the attack which took place at the Baghdad airport ordered by President Trump. The hawks in Washington have convinced the US President that war will fix everything for him. It will halt the massive opposition to the presidency or even delay impeachment proceedings. War will fix the economic problems that cloud the horizon. More importantly, it will re-elect him in the 2020 presidential elections with historically low approval numbers.
Most Americans might never have heard Soleimani’s name before but they will now be certain that he was a dangerous man responsible for the deaths of thousands of people and planning more sinister attacks. Soleimani was no ordinary figure; he had survived over a thousand assassination attempts.
Soleimani was the head of the elite Al-Quds force, a paramilitary force part of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. He had a direct line to Iran’s Supreme Leader to protect and expand Iranian interests in the regions. He played a crucial role in fighting ISIS in Iraq and was not the dangerous man the Western is now portraying him as.
For the first three years of his presidency, Trump had insisted that he does not want to seek a war with Iran. Instead, he withdrew from the nuclear peace accord and imposed tough sanctions. The US has realized that the maximum pressure policy has failed as it will not deter Iran’s leadership. Eventually, Trump succumbed to his advisers and allies from Israel to Saudi Arabia; war sells like hotcakes, it sells space on TV, lines the pockets of defense contractors, and elects politicians.
The assassination is clearly a departure from the policy of sanctions and shows Trump’s readiness to exercise the USA’s military might. Iran will not sit back idly and has vowed revenge and a sharp response to the killing. The US claims the attack was conducted to protect their own interests in the region particularly after its heavily-fortified embassy was attacked in Baghdad. This will not stop Iran’s proxy attacks in the region but is bound to accelerate them.
Iran will probably avoid an all-out war with the US and will use plentiful other options. It will exploit US failures in Iraq to end American intervention. The region- including the Arab countries- will continue to face the brunt as the start of a new decade might now lead to the start of another long and brutal war.