On January 3rd, 2020, US President, Donald Trump, authorized an airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. The Times of Israel reported,
“Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s Quds Force, was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport, Iraqi TV and three Iraqi officials said Friday. The US Department of Defense confirmed it had carried out the airstrike. ‘General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,’ it said. ‘General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more'” (1).
Since this targeted killing of Soleimani, the world as a whole has been on edge in anticipation of the possible fallout of this airstrike. The Times of Israel goes on to state “Soleimani’s death will likely mark a major escalation in a simmering conflict between the US and Iran that recently boiled over in Iraq with the storming of the US embassy by pro-Iranian militiamen following a US strike on a Tehran-backed militia” (1).
Soleimani is an individual that had a hand in advancing Iran’s activities in the Middle East including gaining a foothold in Syria and rocket attacks in Israel, so his death is by no means a trivial matter to Iran, the US, Israel, and other parts of the world. Israeli deputy national security adviser, Chuck Freilich, also stressed this fact by highlighting he was “‘one of few truly irreplaceable’ figures in Iran, who masterminded many of the country’s military endeavors abroad and who was seen as a potential future leader of the Islamic Republic” (3).
The Times of Israel notes, “Soleimani, a key enemy to not only the US and Israel but also Sunni nations throughout the Middle East, had been threatened with assassination by a variety of state actors over the years” (3). Due to Soleimani’s level of importance, his death is seen as a serious blow to Iran.
Whether you disagree with the President’s actions or believe what he did was warranted, the fact is, what’s done is done and the US now has to deal with the possible consequences of it. “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Friday morning that a ‘harsh retaliation is waiting’ for the US after an American airstrike on a pair of cars at Baghdad’s airport killed Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s elite Quds Force” (2).
After the killing of Soleimani, it was clear to the world that what would come next is Iranian retaliation. Such speculation as to what could happen and when have even led the hashtag “#WWIII” to trend on Twitter and other social media platforms as fears of a possible world war grew.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated, “Iran and the ‘free nations of the region’ would take revenge on the United States for the killing. There is no doubt that the great nation of Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge for this gruesome crime from criminal America” (2).
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif went on to say, “The malice and stupidity of America’s terrorist forces in assassinating General Soleimani, this hero martyr and the leader of combating terrorism and extremism, will certainly further empower the tree of resistance in the region and the world,” it said. The ministry said it would “use all its political, legal and, international capacities to enact the decisions of the Supreme National Security Council to make the murderous and terrorist regime of America answer for this clear atrocity” (2).
A Coming War with Iran?
Although this situation “marks a major escalation in the ongoing standoff between Washington and Tehran,” it’s yet to be seen the full implications this will have in the Middle East and the world as a whole. Are we truly heading into World War 3 or does the US simply need to brace for retaliation from Iran until this eventually “dies down?” Speculation abounds.
While this situation is a serious and delicate one and should be treated with the utmost care, I don’t believe this is leading to another world war. Iran itself has a history of using tough rhetoric without action being taken. This time we’ve seen Esmail Ghaani – Soleimani’s successor – threatened the US by stating “Be patient, and you will see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East” (4). At the same time, a senior Iranian commander threatened that they were targeting around 35 US sites in the Middle East for retaliation.
President Trump, of course, had his own threats as a response, stating on Twitter Saturday evening, “Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American” (5).
Although much of these developments are still fairly recent and it’s still difficult to say what Iran (as well as their proxies) could do, as of the publishing of this article – January 5th, 2020 – we have begun to see some consequences of the assassination:
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on himitsustudy.com.
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