A war of words, threats and counter-threats followed closely on the heels of the targeted assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. As reported two days ago, the United States rid the world of this Iranian arch-terrorist, along with the deputy commander of the Iran-backed militias, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and a number of others. Iran swore revenge, not just against the U.S., but against Israel as well. It doesn’t seem to matter much whether we were actively involved, passively involved, or not involved at all. Iran’s goals have always included the destruction and total elimination of Israel, a goal that Soleimani spear-headed and pursued for the Iranian Ayatollahs with cunning strategy and zeal.
Over the last two days, the position that Soleimani held in Iran became more and more clear. See, for example the report published by Fox News: At one stroke, the U.S. president has decapitated the Iranian regime’s chief terror arm and its most prominent extension in Iraq, where the U.S. Embassy was set on fire last week. Strategically, the killing of Osama bin Laden and, more recently, of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, pale by comparison. In addition to being responsible for killing hundreds of U.S. soldiers during the Iraq War, Soleimani directed a larger state project, which has shaped the geopolitics of the region. It is worth reading the entire article.
It also is reported that Israel was “on the verge” of assassinating Soleimani back in 2015, but its plans were thwarted when details of the plan were leaked to Iran by the administration of then President Barack Obama. The leftist-leaning newspaper, Haaretz, published a report of the leak, citing a Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Jarida. The same news source claimed that Israel was given a green light by the Trump administration to take out Soleimani, a move that was eventually taken by the U.S. a few days ago.
In addition to leaking the information about Israel’s tracking of Soleimani and his possible elimination, the Obama administration is also reported to have transferred anywhere from $400 million to $150 billion to Iran (the exact amount, which included a cash payout, is still not clear), as part of the Iran Nuclear Deal that the U.S. signed with Iran in 2015. See this report.
As a result of the actions of the Obama administration, Soleimani was given an additional four plus years to exert Iran’s influence in the Middle East and beyond, an influence that could have continued for years to come and would only have gotten worse, if he continued to live.
There are a number of consequences that flow from Soleimani’s assassination. Some are obvious, others are not. The not-so-obvious result is the effect that his sudden removal would have on the Iranian regime. Speculation would undoubtedly be high in Iran that something went seriously wrong with its security system. The rule of the Ayatollahs is not warmly received by many Iranians and it doesn’t take much to conclude that the United States was “assisted” in its plans to assassinate Soleimani by “insiders” who were able to provide the information needed to effectuate the strike. This will cause an internal shake-up that could result in the execution of dozens of suspected informants, if not more. Protection of the powers that be will take priority over almost everything else.
An obvious consequence is that Soleimani will become a political issue in the U.S. The left will condemn the elimination of Soleimani as a dangerous move that could drag the country into another Middle East war.
The right will exalt the move as being an ideal act of patriotism, intended to protect American lives. Israel will, of course, side with the Trump administration, a move that could result in a further loss of support from U.S. Democrats.
What needs to be understood here is that Iran does not act in accordance with the rational understanding of “the West”. It has over 80 million people and, in its mindset, if it loses half of its population in a war, but the other half is able to survive and continue to function, it will claim victory. If it doesn’t lose, it wins. And, it must claim victory in order to save face, which is crucial in this part of the world. This, in turn, would enable Iran to have the respect of the Islamic community, as well as to continue to pursue its goal of establishing a ruling Shiite Moslem caliphate, with the Supreme Ayatollah, Ali Khamenei, as the ruling Imam.
Another result of Soleimani’s elimination is that the world sat up and took notice of the fact that when the present U.S. administration sets a red line, the one who crosses it does so at his peril. The U.S. has now shown that unlike the previous administration, the present one is not to be trifled with. But, none of this seems to have made an impact on the leadership in Iran. In a speech given in Tehran today, Muhsan Razai, a former Revolutionary Guards Commander, now a senior Iranian official, said that the response against the United States would be severe, leading to the conclusion that Iran will attack U.S. targets, both individuals and installations. Another Iranian military leader said that the U.S. doesn’t have the courage to go to war against Iran. It appears that the present leadership in Iran is not exactly the brightest star in the firmament. The number two person in Iran’s military-political system was just eliminated and leaders in Iran are ignoring America’s resolve to act against those who who attack a U.S. Embassy and pose a threat to its citizens.
Internal and external doubts regarding Iran’s ability to bounce back from Soleimani’s assassination will need to be dealt with quickly in order for Iran to portray that it is still able to act powerfully and decisively as a leader in the Middle East. Therefore, another very real consequence is that Iran would attempt to retaliate against the U.S., by attacking America’s main Middle East ally, Israel. This was already expressed immediately following Soleimani’s assassination, where Iran blamed Israel along with the U.S. If there was any doubt whether Iran was only sparring with words, today’s report out of Iran would appear to make things crystal clear. The Walla (Hebrew) news site referred to the comments of Muhsan Razai (mentioned above), who said that Iran would respond with a serious offensive against Haifa (where I happen to live) and against Israeli military bases.
It may be that Iran intends to carry out its threat through its “affiliates” in the region, particularly the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon, which is Iran’s major proxy in the Middle East. This would appear to be the case from a broadcast address given earlier today by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah. In his speech, he said that responding to Soleimani’s killing was not the responsibility of Iran only, but also the responsibility of Iran’s allies in the region. This is a veiled threat that needs to be considered along with the claim of an Iranian military commander that in addition to U.S. targets in the Middle East, Tel Aviv was also within range of Tehran’s missiles.
Needless to say, Israel is taking appropriate defensive measures. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s this: If your enemy says he’s going to kill you, the threat should be taken seriously.
May God strengthen the arms of those who serve by day and by night to protect us, as watchmen on the walls of our land.
In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them…. (The Scroll of Esther 8:11)
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this, I shall be confident. (Psalm 27:1-3)
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper” (Isaiah 54:17)
Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. (Zech. 4:6)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.