US Iran: Conflict with Iran just isn’t inevitable: Hussein Ibish

Now that the U.S. has taken out Qassem Soleimani, arguably crucial army determine within the 40-year historical past of the Islamic Republic, typical knowledge holds that Tehran should reply with excessive prejudice. Supreme Chief Ali Khamenei has promised “extreme retaliation,” and his regime is placing out movies of 1000’s of Iranian mourners demanding vengeance.

What may that imply? Many commentators—and never solely in Iran or the united statesare suggesting {that a} new battle within the Center East is inevitable. Some liken Soleimani’s killing to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and on Twitter the hashtag #WWIII has been trending.

Not so quick. Iran could have many choices for unleashing mayhem towards American pursuits and allies within the Center East, and loads of allies and proxies by way of which to take action. However it additionally has a robust purpose to cease and rethink. Past the expressions of concern in Tehran—and alarm elsewhere—lies the chilly actuality that Iran can’t afford a battle with a much more highly effective opponent.

Any retaliation that results in battle will wreak huge harm on the Islamic Republic. Even when prices extra American blood and treasure than President Trump imagines, the toll on the Iranian nation shall be many magnitudes higher. That’s an consequence the regime in Tehran has consciously been making an attempt to keep away from.

The leaders of the Islamic Republic like to think about themselves as strategic thinkers, with a eager understanding of their opponents and a knack for anticipating their subsequent strikes. However they clearly misjudged Donald Trump. Satisfied the American president would do something to keep away from a battle, they’ve for months been upsetting the U.S. with progressively extra intense provocations.

Their aim all alongside has been to pressure the U.S. to ease the financial sanctions Trump imposed after he withdrew from the nuclear deal in Could 2018. The regime Tehran initially tried to attend out the sanctions, however found they had been extra painful than anticipated.

A 12 months later, by Could 2019, they started a marketing campaign of intimidation by attacking industrial transport in worldwide waters, however had been cautious to not really sink ships or kill anyone.

Tehran was relying on upsetting disproportionate U.S. response, in need of precise battle however sufficient to create a disaster and immediate worldwide diplomatic intervention to get each side to again down. On this situation, Iran can be “persuaded” to cease its assaults, and the U.S. to ease the sanctions.

When the primary spherical of provocations didn’t get a response, the Iranians shot down an American army drone. Trump referred to as off a retaliatory strike on the final minute, however he introduced a “pink line”: the loss of life of any American at Iranian fingers would mandate a army response.

So, Iran raised the stakes by unleashing a significant assault on Saudi oil installations. The U.S. moved troops to Saudi Arabia, however once more didn’t reply kinetically.

At that time, Iran’s proxy militias in Iraq, particularly Kata’ib Hezbollah, launched a collection of rocket assaults towards U.S.-related services in Iraq. This marketing campaign culminated final week with an assault that killed an American contractor, a number of Iraqi police and troopers, and wounded 4 American troops.

All through this calibrated testing of the bounds of American persistence, the regime in Tehran was sure that Trump didn’t need a battle. When his pink line was crossed, nonetheless, they found he wasn’t fairly as conflict-adverse as they assumed.

First, U.S. strikes on Kata’ib Hezbollah bases killed no less than 24 militia cadres. Then, after the group’s members violently besieged and broken the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, the Trump administration claims it picked up credible intelligence that Soleimani was plotting additional assaults on American pursuits and personnel in Iraq.

Proof for this has not been supplied, however such habits is according to Iran’s escalating provocations. Soleimani’s presence in Iraq, the place he was touring with Kata’ib Hezbollah chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis may have hardened suspicions. Each had been killed within the U.S. drone assault, and several other extra pro-Iranian Iraqi militia leaders could have been killed in a subsequent strike final night time.

What now? The Iranians can not be below any illusions about Trump’s urge for food to reply provocations with disproportionate pressure. The killing of Soleimani was essentially the most extreme assault on the Iranian political equipment the U.S. might have inflicted exterior of Iran. Khamenei should know now “extreme retaliation” by Iran could possibly be met with an much more devastating American response. He may nonetheless calculate that Trump doesn’t need all-out battle, however that gamble is far riskier than it was final week, final month, or final 12 months.

The smarter possibility for Iran can be to take Secretary of State Mike Pompeo significantly when he says the U.S. is now searching for de-escalation, and prohibit their retaliations to thundering threats. The regime may, as a substitute, harvest some worldwide sympathy, nonetheless undeserving, for Soleimani’s killing. And the outpouring of nationwide grief might distract Iranians from the latest slaughter of a whole bunch of their countrymen, ordered by Khamenei and executed by Soleimani and different commanders.

If the regime is pushed by ideology and feelings, it can stay as much as Khamenei’s phrase and retaliate harshly—at nice price to Iran and the entire area. However whether it is rational, because it tends to be in a disaster, it can take the chance for an extended pause within the sample of escalation with the U.S., and discover a new technique that doesn’t drag everybody in the direction of a devastating battle.

Saqib Malik

Saqib is an established technical expert with 9+ years of background in Web Development and Digital Marketing. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. He plans to take CloutNews forward with the consistent support from you readers, friends and family! You can contact him at or