Five Important Points to know about the U. S. Takeout of Iranian General Soleimani
By John Mason/Arab America Contributing Writer
The deadly removal of Iranian Al-Quds Force leader, Qassem Soleimani, by the U.S. government on Friday, January 3 has generated a new and dangerous Middle East-and-beyond geopolitical landscape. It has complicated the lives of Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese, and Yemeni Arabs, where Al-Quds surrogate militias operate. It also complicates Arab lives in Iranian enemy Arab states including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, and Jordan. It may even spread to the U.S. itself, especially through cyber warfare means.
The Trump administration has claimed that the killing of Iran’s top military leader, Qassem Soleimani, has ended the General’s “reign of terror.” President Trump maintains that Soleimani had “made the death of innocent people his sick passion.”
Most U.S. political-military analysts suggest that Trump has unleashed the forces of war that will be carried out asymmetrically, not using traditional forces and otherwise launched at a moment of Iran’s choosing, not the U.S. In the aftermath, Iran has promised a “harsh retaliation”
Exact repercussions of this act of murdering Iran’s highest military officials are unknown, but Arab Americans might begin thinking about kinsmen back in their homelands, whether it is Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and possibly other Arab countries. Cyberwarfare is yet another source of terror the Iranians could inflict anywhere, anytime, including the U.S. In addition, Trump claims that by ridding the world of the head of the Iranian Al-Quds force (a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; its name in Arabic, The Jerusalem/‘Holy One’ ), he is reducing the chance of another war, while at the same time sending 3,000 new troops to the Mideast.
We might recall from the Obama era that an agreement to control Iran’s nuclear production was signed along with a group of other world powers in 2015. This agreement set the stage for peace, including diplomatic relations with Iran. Trump broke that agreement because he alleged it didn’t cover all of Iran’s military actions.
Five possible points of concern following the taking-out of Soleimani
- Soleimani’s tentacles were and will continue to be far-reaching, having extended his al-Quds or ‘Holy One’ forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen and potentially in enemy Arab states including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, and Jordan. Given the possibility of ‘asymmetrical’ warfare from the Iranian side, we won’t know the consequences until we have seen them.
- Iran attacks back at a time of its convenience, may not be using usual tactics of warfare, but attacking when and where they please, and possibly, will further include the use of cyberwarfare.
- Future attacks may occur against Arab American homeland countries where Al-Quds influence exists (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen).
- Iranian cyber-attack may target maybe in the U.S., such as an earlier attempt to disrupt one of New York City’s major sources of water at an upstate reservoir.
- Iran could easily bring Israel into the orbit of its attacks (after all, Israel along with the U.S. carried out earlier cyber-attacks on Iran’s nuclear production operations), thus greatly expanding the scope of war in the Middle East region.
What’s next for the U.S.?
As expected, many members of the U.S. Congress praised the strike on Soleimani, while others warned of “unintended consequences.” Since Al-Quds force was already on the U.S. Department of Treasury list of terrorists, U.S. officials used that justification for Soleimani’s assassination. Most Congressmen and Women believe the General was a bad actor, having killed many U.S. troops over the years. The problem was the timing of the strike and the fact that Trump did not share the plan of attack transparently with Congress. The Pentagon reported that “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” However, no evidence of such upcoming Iranian planned attacks was provided.
While the assassination of a critical Iranian leader was perhaps not designed to create a new war, its consequences could very well result in such an event. Some analysts suggest that Trump wants a war with Iran so as to guarantee his 2020 re-election. A segment of U.S. citizens opposed to both Trump and a new Middle East war are actively protesting the possibility of such a war in protests in numerous cities across the U.S.
“Trump declares an Iranian’s general’s ‘reign of terror’ over,” Associated Press, 1/03/2020
“Congress reacts to US assassination of an Iranian general,” The Hill, 01/03/2020
“U.S. Assassination of Iranian General Is Major Escalation & Will Make America Less Safe, Democracy Now, 1/03/2020
John Mason, who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He has taught at the University of Libya, Benghazi and the American University in Cairo, served on the United Nations staff in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively with USAID and the World Bank in 65 countries on socioeconomic and political development.
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