On the night of January 7-8, Ain al-Assad US military base and a military facility in Erbil in Iraq were targeted by rockets. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the elite Iranian unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. This was Tehran’s response to the liquidation of al-Quds Iranian commander General Qasem Suleimani and the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Forces commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as a result of a US missile strike at the Baghdad airport on the night of January 3. The Americans took such a step after the missile strike of the pro-Iranian Kataib Hezbollah group against US military facilities in Syria and Iraq at the end of December and the demonstrators attacked the US embassy in Baghdad. Iranian authorities have dubbed the military action Operation Martyr Suleimani and on the eve of the missile attacks, the Pentagon has been recognized as a terrorist organization. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps claimed that as a result of missile strikes, 80 American soldiers were killed, 200 people were injured, and equipment was destroyed. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif said that his country has exercised the right to self-defense in accordance with Art. 51 of the UN Charter. Although there was no attack on the territory of the Islamic Republic. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have demanded the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
Trump's briefing looks like an attempt to get out of the vicious circle into which the White House has driven the United States in the Middle East. Murder Suleimani is a mistake because he was just a pawn of the Ayatollah regime. Instead, another officer, General Ismail Kaani, has already been appointed to command Al-Quds. Iran will not turn from the path of sponsoring terrorist organizations, interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Iran uses the death of Suleimani as a pretext for more aggressive actions in the Middle East in order to oust US influence from the region. Recent shelling is evidence of this.
Trump took a step back in the confrontation with Iran, because he was not ready for a new armed conflict, despite the availability of a suitable occasion. Iranian security forces are already directly carrying out attacks on American military facilities like the Japanese militarists, who crushed the Pearl Harbor naval base in December 1941, which became the reason for the US entry into World War II. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called Iran’s attack an act of war.
The United States refrained from a proportionate response to Iran in the form of targeted missile and bomb strikes on military units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in border areas with Iraq, as well as on Iranian military installations in Syria due to the threat of Iranian security forces to strike at other countries, including Haifu port in Israel and the city of Dubai in the UAE. The nearest US air bases are located in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and fall within the radius of destruction of Iranian ballistic missiles (2.000 km).
Iranians can use the Shiite group Ansar Allah in Yemen, which last year fired on settlements in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, damaged oil refineries and the East-West pipeline in the kingdom. These countries are the most active in the Muslim world in support of the tough US policy towards Iran. The authorities of Qatar and Oman are trying to maintain a balance in relations with Iran and the West, and in Bahrain, Shiite Muslims - co-religionists of Iranians - make up the majority. They are not ready to aggravate relations with Tehran.
The armed conflict between the United States and Iran could boomerang affect the security of Israel. The Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, sponsored by Iran, threatened to wipe out Israeli cities after the liquidation of Suleimani. Israeli secret services are preparing to eliminate the consequences of possible missile attacks by Iranian-sponsored armed groups from Syria, Hezbollah terrorist organizations from Lebanon, and Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip.
Not all representatives of the US political elite support the idea of using military force against Iran. The U.S. Congress reacted coolly to the elimination of Suleimani by order of Trump. The possibility of depriving the president of authority in the use of military force abroad is being considered. Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Nancy Pelosi believes that it is necessary to ensure the security of the US military, demand from Iran to stop the violence, and from the Trump administration to stop provocative actions and prevent a new war. Senator Richard Durbin believes that in connection with the growing violence in relations between the United States and Iran, it is necessary to transfer to the Congress the constitutional right to decide when to declare war and when not to. The lion's share of the responsibility for the current Gulf crisis lies precisely with the Trump administration, and this is recognized by American lawmakers themselves.
The United States showed restraint in order to avoid further destabilization of the situation in the Middle East, which will result in large losses among the military and civilians, waves of refugees in the direction of the West.
Threat without a war
The US’s willingness to engage in direct negotiations with Iran does not mean that the Middle East is waiting for peace and stability. Iran perceives the restrained reaction of the United States as a manifestation of weakness and an occasion to persistently defend its interests. Iran’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, said that there would be no more retaliation for the death of Suleimani, but his country would not negotiate with the United States as long as sanctions were in place. Iran is not going to make concessions, and this helps in new provocations. Iran’s unpredictable behavior will pose a threat to international security.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps may continue to seize foreign tankers in the Persian Gulf and impede free navigation in the Strait of Hormuz. This may lead to interruptions in oil supplies to Europe, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, and may affect the growth of world prices for black gold. Recent shelling of US military bases in Iraq provoked an increase in oil prices by 4%. American oil rose from $ 61 to $ 65.5 per barrel. If oil exports from Iraq are blocked in the event of an escalation of the conflict, then prices could rise to $ 90 per barrel. Only major oil suppliers from OPEC, Venezuela, Russia, and the USA will benefit from this.
Iran’s increased alert poses a potential threat to international air travel. It is not clear to the end what caused the crash on January 8 of the Boeing-737 passenger plane Ukraine International Airlines, which operated the Tehran-Kyiv flight. Either these were technical malfunctions of the new aircraft or Iranian anti-aircraft gunners shot down the aircraft by mistake, just like the illegal armed groups of Donbas separatists shot down the Malaysian Boeing 777 in July 2014 in the sky over the Donetsk region. Such a mistake cost the life of the entire crew and passengers.
Tehran has returned to blackmail politics of the international community. In response to the liquidation of Suleimani, Iran has withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan of 2015. Now, the Iranian leadership does not limit the increase in the number of centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Uranium with an enrichment percentage of over 20% can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Iranian authorities are ready to return to compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal only if the United States lifts sanctions and respects their interests in the Middle East. It is unlikely that it will be possible to restore the sanctions of the UN Security Council against Iran. Russia and China will not vote for a decision in the face of difficult relations with the Trump administration.
Washington's crisis of influence
With his actions and inaction against Iran, Trump personally dealt a crushing blow to the international authority of the United States and its influence in the Middle East. The killing of Suleimani is no different from the contract killings of organized criminal groups or the actions of terrorist organizations that physically eliminate people for political purposes. The same methods. The Americans set a precedent for the use of military force to kill officials of other countries. The United States eliminated Suleimani in the same way as destroyed by rocket attacks of the field commanders of al-Qaeda, ISIS.
The failure of the States to curb the ayatollah regime means a crisis of existing military-political alliances with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Israel. Washington had to come to terms with Tehran’s aggressive actions to avoid missile attacks on the oil monarchies and Israel. Neither sanctions nor military force prompted Iran to pursue a more predictable policy towards the countries of the region.
US loses to Iran in Iraq. Under the influence of the liquidation of al-Muhandis and Suleimani, the majority of Iraqi MPs voted to withdraw all foreign troops from the country, including 5.2 thousand US troops who have 12 military facilities in Iraq. Trump requires Iraqi lawmakers to reconsider the decision under threat of sanctions. It is not safe for the US military to be in Iraq, where anti-government protests are raging, and Iran is trying to put its man in the prime minister’s chair after Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced his resignation.
The cessation of the activity of the international anti-terrorist coalition in Iraq, whose participants trained the local security forces, will become a factor in the revival of the influence of ISIS. The United States and Shiite armed groups previously fought ISIS in Iraq, but now stand on opposite sides of the barricades. As the United States and Iran sort things out, ISIS cells will accumulate strength and resources to grab their piece of the pie in Iraq. Even if the United States leaves Iraq, the situation in the country will not become more stable.