By Perry Diaz
The assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani sparked a turbulence that would definitely lead to a regional – or international – conflict the world has never seen since the end of World War II. Indeed, President Donald Trump’s order to kill Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the 400,000-member paramilitary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is for all practical purposes a “declaration of war” with far-reaching consequences for the Middle East. Soleimani is the second most powerful man in Iran, next only to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Hosseini Khamenei. His job is to protect and expand the regime’s interests in the Middle East. The killing of Soleimani is viewed as an attack on the Iranian state.
The fact that Soleimani was killed in Baghdad, Iraq, puts the U.S. squarely in conflict with Iraq, which until now is allied with the U.S. with 5,000 American troops stationed in Iraq. Without warning or consultation, the Iraqi government was not informed of the assassination of Soleimani at the Baghdad airport on January 2, 2020. The following day, the U.S. urged all citizens to depart Iraq immediately.
That killing infuriated Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi that he asked the Iraqi Parliament to pass a resolution expelling the U.S. forces in Iraq. Immediately, the Iraqi Parliament passed a non-binding resolution, 170 to 0, to expel the Americans from Iraqi territory.
Trump, in his usual knee-jerk reaction and without consulting with Congress, ordered the assassination of Soleimani. Trump for reasons unknown, ordered Soleimani killed due to his suspicion that Soleimani is plotting to kill American diplomats and citizens without proof or evidence.
Trump also threatened to send missiles to 52 cultural sites in Iran. But that would be a violation of the Geneva Convention and if Trump pursues that, he’d be vulnerable to being changed for war crimes.
But Trump may have gotten more than what he bargained for. He was hoping that the killing would bring Iran to its knees and with economic sanctions will cripple the government financially; thus, losing the ability – and will power – to wage war against the U.S. Trump is dead wrong. On the contrary, the killing would lead to war with Iran, which could draw the Russians, who are expected to send reinforcement to its forces already in Syria. It is a known fact that Russia’s goal is to become the undisputed power in the Middle East. With Syria already in Russia’s militarily expanding domain, adding Iraq to its sphere of influence would be the prize that it has been seeking in the past decade. And as soon as U.S. forces leave Iraq, Russia will step in to fill the vacuum left by the Americans.
But Trump’s thinking is the opposite of the reality that is happening now. He said that he ordered the killing of Soleimani to “safeguard American lives from future attacks, not start war with Iran.” Or, according to the sceptics, it was meant to safeguard the Trump presidency by deflecting attention from the impeachment during an election year. It’s a typical “wagging the dog” scenario. But this time, the dog bit really hard, which could cause the Russian bear to enter the fray.
As some critics say, the assassination is a clear departure from the policy of sanctions, showing Trump’s readiness to use US military might as much as its economic power.
But Iran, true to its nature, would avoid all-out war with the U.S. However, it would resort to covert operations to undermine U.S. influence in the Middle East, assassinations, low-intensity warfare, cyberwarfare, oil and maritime disruptions in the Gulf region. Maritime traffic in the Gulf of Hormuz will come to a stop.
Iran has also cultivated new strategic alliance with Russia and China, joining the two for war games in the Gulf of Oman in late December. The assassination will only solidify the alliance and could lead to a tripartite strategic treaty between Iran, Russia, and China.
And this is where the big danger lies. With Russia and China getting involved in the US-Iran conflict, this could spark a war that could cause irreparable damage to the oil fields in the Middle East and world economy, which would make the 2008 financial meltdown look like child play and could cause a massive recession far deeper and bigger than the Great Depression.
Although it’s unlikely that it would lead to a nuclear war, it would most likely be an unconventional war of terror without borders. Use of drones would be the name of the game, which would leave population centers exposed to such attacks.
In today’s globalized economy, interdependence among nations is imperative in the well-being of all countries. A war in the Middle East could disrupt global trade and cause high unemployment. War would cause hardship on all nations. But you can’t convince the Iranian leaders to abandon their vow of “Death to America.” Its hatred borne out of fanaticism has no limits. And for as long as America’s leaders pursue armed confrontation against Iran, it will not prevail and defeat Iran.
But Iran and the rest of the Arab world will continue to suffer as a result. As the old Swahili proverb says: “When elephants fight and when they play, it is the grass that gets crushed.” But the grass will grow back in time, but the elephants will suffer more from devastation of land destroyed by war.
Which makes one wonder: Can the U.S. survive such warfare, and can the American people take it? The U.S. would survive such warfare, but the American people would not take it. Remember the Vietnam War.
All in all, the fallout from the assassination of Qasem Soleimani would severely impact the American people’s psyche and cause the American government to seek peace with Iran.