The US invasion of Iraq helped Iran reestablish its foothold in the Shia-majority Iraq. It also allowed the US to maintain a 5,200 military presence in the embattled country – as well as flow of cheap crude oil out of Iraq.
What might the brazen assassination of General Qasem Soleimani entail? Premature accelerated US troops withdrawal from Iraq?
The consensus resolution in the Iraqi parliament has clearly set the ball rolling on the subject. Despite the threat of “unprecedented sanctions” if US troops were expelled, Iraqi MPs, also egged on by an outraged Iranian leadership, will find it extremely difficult to wind back their demand.
Secondly, Solemani’s killing, and the unusual intimidation by Trump, has literally smoked Iraq’s status as a “strategic ally.” No allies any more – as of now. The grounds he used to sanction strike on Solemani have drawn ire and suspicion by many, including James Clapper, ex-director of National Intelligence.
Thirdly, Solemani’s removal – has beyond doubt further reinforced the Iranian influence over Iraq’s political elite and the security establishment.
Fourth, most of the Middle East now far less safer – and largely “no go area” for most Americans, particularly after Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrullah, a close Iranian ally, pronounced “revenge “ on US military any where in the region.
Fifth, calculated Iranians are well aware that their country is literally a sitting duck in the face of America’s lethal war technology. They also know that thousands of US troops deployed in its south and southwestern neighborhood – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE – literally surround it. Talking of a military retaliation can, therefore, be an appeasement ploy for the grieved and offended Iranians but not an option. It will only draw in deadly American technology that can turn targets in Tehran and elsewhere into rubble – a fate that a strident Iraq and Libya suffered.
Sixth, conscious of its limited war capabilities, Iranian leaders most probably will now turn to deploy and bolster their soft power inside Iraq and elsewhere to take their revenge, meaning thereby making life difficult for the Americans in Iraq.
Seventh, the US hostilities are likely to not only derail the Afghan peace process but also, possibly turn western Afghanistan into another battleground for the US-Iran proxy war.
Shindand Airbase, located in southwest Afghanistan, is less than 75 miles from the Iranian border and Tehran has always viewed it with suspicion. The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries share it for operations.
We should not be surprised if the following weeks and months witness a surge in violence in western Afghanistan and elsewhere in that country, particularly focused on the US military targets.
Lastly, it is totally false to ground the current debate in morality or international law. Regard for cultural sites or human rights literally matter little once the US establishment decides to mount military action to punish the opposition. Media and members of UN may speak of War Crimes but let us be real; the invasion of Iraq in 2003 or the anti-terror war in Afghanistan , too, had no UN sanction. Neither did Washington care about the legal niceties. “American interests” came first regardless of how the world described them.
With his action, President Trump has pushed the global geopolitical divide to new levels. As for now he has cemented this polarization, buried under blatantly phoney joint statement issued after the Indo US 2+2 dialogue on December 19; the four Ministers positively appraised the growing partnership between the United States and India, grounded in mutual trust and friendship, democratic values, people-to-people ties, and a common commitment to the prosperity of their citizens. ….strategic partnership ….. is rooted in shared values of freedom, justice, human rights, and commitment to the rule of law.
This statement simply epitomizes the hypocrisy of geo-politics and requires a much more calibrated, coordinated response by countries such as China and Russia to challenge the American high-handed, selective approaches. Solemani’s elimination on the soil of a third country is yet another reflection of this ugly geopolitics. The world will likely watch yet another round of US-Iran stand-off loaded with tensions for the entire region.
This article first appeared in Matrix Mag and is being reproduced under a special arrangement. Click here to go to the original.