As we speak, people across the State of Israel are feeling tense, pondering if Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad will jointly start firing rockets at the State of Israel in retaliation for the elimination of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the notorious Al Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Already, Tehran has set their sight on 35 US targets in the Middle East and Tel Aviv. However, at the same time, US President Donald Trump proclaimed that he does not seek regime change in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Given this, what can we expect to happen following Soleimani’s elimination?
It is fair to assume that the US President will do everything in his power in order to see to it that this present conflict does not escalate into a war. Former Israel Consul General Dr. Yitzchak Ben Gad noted that the US presidential elections are in 2020 and he fears that a US-led war against Iran would not help Trump’s re-election campaign. After all, not many Americans want their sons and daughters killed fighting in the Middle East. The reaction of the Democratic candidates to Soleimani’s elimination illustrates what Trump is up against should this escalate into a war.
However, at the same time, that does not mean that Trump regrets his decision to eliminate Soleimani. After all, Soleimani was responsible not only for terrorizing his own people during the recent Iran protests and for trying to brutally crush the Iraq protests but also stood behind the recent attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, a rocket attack that killed an American and injured four others in Kirkuk and was personally responsible for the death of hundreds of American servicemen and civilians. Furthermore, as Trump noted, Soleimani stood behind terror attacks in places as far away as London and New Delhi.
In fact, Shipan Kumer Basu, President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, claims: “Soleimani also exerted influence in Bangladesh. With the financial support of the Iranian government, they launched a project to convert Hindus, Buddhists and Christians in Bangladesh. Iranian assistance to Bangladesh was supported by an Islamist organization, Human Philanthropy. In 2018, the Iranian government arranged for the jihadist training of Bangladeshi madrassa students. Iran was trying to take in 500 Bangladeshi madrassa students’ back then by providing them with scholarships. However, their plan ultimately was foiled after it was exposed in the media.” Similarly, Soleimani’s influence extended into Africa. In fact, Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, has been training Nigerian Islamists for years and Iran has utilized West African Islamists in order to assist its war in Syria.
Indeed, the effect of Soleimani’s demise has been felt across the world and this is precisely why Trump took this measure, even though he knows that it could lead to an Iranian retaliation that could ignite a war. He knew that it would be a game changer, which could adversely affect Tehran’s ability to wage its aggression in the Middle East and beyond. Soleimani was the brains behind all Iran-orchestrated terror in the region. He was a master political strategist and knew how to play his cards for the Iranian regimes benefit. It will be very difficult for any replacement to fill his shoes. Thus, his death poses a major obstacle for the regime in Tehran.
And for this reason, it is very likely that Iran will seek to avenge his death in some way, shape or form. And should that happen, the road to this elimination leading to a full-scale conflict in the Middle East is a short one, even though US President Donald Trump does not seek a war at this time. Nevertheless, it was a calculated risk that Trump had to take. Former Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara proclaimed that given recent events, the US can no longer close their eyes to what is happening around them and this is why they proceeded with the elimination: “They know that Iran is the enemy of all the democratic world including America. America is the leader of the western democratic world and Iran is a bastion for terrorism and extremism. They cannot go together.”
Given this, what happens next? Even if this does not escalate into a war, it is very likely that the Iranians will target US interests in the Middle East and/or their allies. Already, a missile was fired to the area of the American Embassy in Baghdad. Kara believes that this type of behavior would prompt “America to support partners in the region who are trying to fight against the extremism,” thus indicating that the US could potentially start supporting the Iraqi demonstrators that seek to expel Iran from their country.
“I am feeling very happy about the pro-democracy protests in Iraq,” Kara noted. “They want a liberal, democratic regime and they do not want that the regime of Iran will dominate in Iraq. It is legitimate. There is more of a chance that the US will give support for that. We cannot sit at the side and not help people crying for a democratic regime. This is very important for everyone who is a humanitarian. Of course, they will be successful if the US will support them. If the Iraqi protesters will be successful, so will the Iranian protesters.”
However, Iranian journalist Neda Amin is less optimistic about that: “America sacrificed the Syrian Kurds to Turkey. They showed that they don’t care about helping anyone and only consider their own interests. For the sake of the Iranian and Iraqi people, they won’t engage in a war. A war with Iran is not what America wants. It will cost America a lot and cause enmity with Russia.” However, depending on Iran’s retaliation, circumstances might be beyond Trump’s control at this point.