Did Trump make the correct decision when he decided to order the assassination of Qassem al-Soleimani on Iraqi soil earlier this January?
Has the removal of the leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) strengthened the embattled nation, or increased its resolve and resistance? While deterrence may have been restored for now, what are the medium and longer term implications of the strike inside Iran, in Iraq and around the region?
To answer these questions DC Insider spoke with Alireza Nader, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), who believes that Trump's decision was resolute although future retaliation remains a possibility.
"I think it was a very bold move. In a sense, Soleimani was the number 2 guy of the regime and it's a big blow to Khamanei, especially considering his regime is not doing too well... It just faced a major rebellion in November and the economy is crashing, so I understand the regime's desire to get revenge or strike back, but it's not a game the regime is going to win because the U.S. is just going to hit back harder. The U.S. has demonstrated that it's willing to hit pretty hard."
"I think it was a very bold move. In a sense, Soleimani was the #2 guy of the regime and it's a big blow to Khamanei, especially considering his regime is not doing too well...
Mainstream media have been adamant that revenge is on Iran's mind, especially Khamanei. What is the likelihood of a retaliatory strike, especially since Khamenei swore vengeance on U.S. leaders?
"I wouldn't put it past the regime to strike the U.S. directly or indirectly, but if the U.S. has demonstrated that they could kill the number 2 guy in the regime this means everybody in the regime is at risk: the command and control, the communications, the military equipment infrastructure... If the regime does take military action, it would be hit very hard."
Do you believe that Trump made the right move in killing Soleimani, or was this simply his hubris running amok once again?
"I think it's too soon to tell if it was the right move.. You have to remember that Soleimani had a lot of American blood on his hands, and lots of Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian blood. He was the regime's best and brightest. The Islamic Republic cannot replace him. And if so, there is nobody like him. We'll have to see how this plays out."
You have to remember that Soleimani had a lot of American blood on his hands, and lots of Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian blood. He was the regime's best and brightest. The Islamic Republic cannot replace him.
With this year's U.S. presidential election coming up and Trump standing on thin ice with his impeachment and other scandals, will Soleimani's death positively affect Trump's campaign?
"Again, I think it's too early to tell. It's interesting because one of the reasons that the U.S. killed Soleimani is because the Trump administration does not want a repeat of Benghazi or any sort of perception that would make the president look weak going into an election year. We'll have to see how this plays out with Iran and if the U.S. decides to negotiate or not.... That'll be a big part of the puzzle as well."
one of the reasons that the U.S. killed Soleimani is because the Trump administration does not want a repeat of Benghazi or any sort of perception that would make the president look weak going into an election year.
Is the characterization of the strike as rash or reckless an accurate one?
"Not necessarily. It was always an option. The U.S. had been tracking Soleimani for a number of years but always said that it wasn't worth the risk. This time around, U.S. forces came directly under attack and Americans were killed in Iraq, with pro-regime militias storming the U.S. embassy. In a lot of ways this was warranted. you could argue it was just... Though, it will have consequences, but the consequences could be worse for the Khamenei regime."
it will have consequences, but the consequences could be worse for the Khamenei regime.
Trump claimed that this action was taken in self-defense, is there any truth to that?
"Yes, because the revolutionary guards have conducted thousands of attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq over the years... They would train their proxies and send them across the border into Iraq and they were doing that all along. I think that period is over and U.S. troops were coming directly under attack and so it is pre-emptive."
Iran has fully abandoned the JCPOA agreement. What could this mean for the future of their nuclear weapons? What could be the implications of this move?
"The regime in Iran is starting to leave the JCPOA and for all intent and purposes, the JCPOA is dead. If Iran decides to move forward with the nuclear program, it's going to come under international sanctions, including European sanctions, and that's going to really end whatever ties it's had with Europe and so that remains a very risky decision for the regime to make."
The U.S. provides the Iraqi government with billions and security/econmonic assistance so it would be a really bad decision for Iraq to severe that relationship and Iraq, possibly incurring U.S. sanctions if it began trading with Iran.
The Iraqi Parliament officially declared that it wants the U.S. out of its country. What could this mean for the fate of the long-term strategic agreement between the U.S. and Iraq?
"The Iraqi parliament issued a non-binding resolution and it was attended by a big chunk of the parliament. Ultimately, it's going to become completely a vessel state of Iran and it's going to lose sovereignty completely. The U.S. provides the Iraqi government with billions and security/economic assistance so it would be a really bad decision for Iraq to severe that relationship and Iraq, possibly incurring U.S. sanctions if it began trading with Iran."
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba News.
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