January 23, 2020

Alarmists Were Wrong about the Soleimani Strike
Two weeks ago, the United States seemed on the brink of starting another war in the Middle East after a drone strike killed Iran’s most notorious spymaster, Qasem Soleimani, as he departed an international airport in Baghdad. The shadowy general, in charge of the Iranian equivalent of the CIA, was one of the most effective operatives in the Middle East’s history. He built a sprawling army of proxy militias throughout the region and helped expand Tehran’s dominance in nearby countries.But the dust has now settled, and none of the doomsday scenarios that so many in the media warned about has come to pass. It is true that Iran launched a missile attack into U.S. bases in Iraq, but the attack was merely symbolic. As Iraqi officials revealed the following day, Iran had informed them of an imminent attack on U.S. bases, a message that the Iraqis promptly and predictably passed on to the Americans. No fatalities were recorded, but the Iranian regime still told its followers that dozens if not hundreds of Americans were killed as a result of the retaliation.Indeed, none of the doomsday scenarios were plausible to begin with. Iran has a narrow menu of options in terms of escalation against the U.S. It is not interested in a direct war with the U.S., nor are any of its proxies or allies in the region. The regime faces increasingly crippling sanctions imposed by Washington, and domestic unrest is building up with occasional street protests. Also, its allies in Iraq and Lebanon have been under unprecedented pressure from grassroots protests, persistent since October. In Syria, the currency is collapsing on historic levels as more than one third of the country remains outside the control of the Iranian-backed government. Iran is embroiled in domestic and regional crises, and many of the gains it made in recent years are still tenuous.In the panic that followed the news of Soleimani’s killing, that essential context was overlooked. Pundits and former officials warned of a showdown, between Iran and the U.S., that Tehran would not want. When the confrontation did not pan out, critics still maintained that this was mere luck. One journalist suggested that the war was averted because the mullahs in Iran exercised “more restraint” than the U.S. did.In reality, the alarmism was never warranted. The circumstances around Soleimani’s killing exposed not just Iran’s many vulnerabilities and limited options for escalation against the U.S. but also serious myths that shape much of the American perception of the Iranian regime. Specifically, the idea that Iran can inflict damage on the U.S. is an outdated view about the situation in the region.In 2020, unlike the early years after the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. has little footprint in conflict zones such Iraq and Syria. Iran, on the other hand, has invested heavily in keeping its allies in power, almost all of them now under domestic pressure. In other words, in a reverse of the Iraq War dynamics, the U.S. can mess with Iran in many more ways than Iran can retaliate. That is a new reality to which pundits and policymakers in the U.S. still need to catch up. The policy shift toward Iran under the Trump administration — to increase military, political, and economic pressure to weaken its regional hegemony — is exposing such vulnerabilities and demonstrating that the U.S. can deter Iran with minimal costs.The apocalyptic commentary we witnessed this month has become the default response to provocations from Iran or its allies. Consider, for example, the reactions when President Obama announced he would launch punitive strikes against the Iranian-backed Syrian regime after its use of chemical weapons in 2013. The case in favor of strikes could not have been more compelling: Damascus violated an explicit red line that Obama declared against an internationally forbidden weapon — “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”Similar scenarios of a “Third World War” were presented. Some even pointed to Syria’s (nonexistent) formidable air defenses. Obama eventually backed down and struck what can be described only as a face-saving agreement with Russia, the regime’s international patron, to end Syria’s use of chemical weapons and dismantle its arsenal. Despite the agreement, such attacks persisted.It was President Trump who launched punitive strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad four years later Again, none of the scenarios that many had warned about developed. The Syrians stood by as 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched from the Mediterranean Sea, landed on military bases. Unlike 2013, this time Russia was present on the ground inside Syria, after its military intervention in 2015, so the stakes were even higher for the U.S. in 2017.The point is that the usual pushback against any assertive U.S. policy toward Iran has little basis in reality. It is based largely on exaggeration and fear-mongering that emboldens the regime in Iran and provides it with the space to operate throughout the region with impunity. How else would one explain that Soleimani, who was accused of having American blood on his hands, was making public appearances not far from American forces during the fight against the Islamic State? He organized the Benghazi-style storming of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Just days before he was killed, he had ordered a proxy attack, on a military base housing U.S. forces, that killed an American civilian contractor. Yet he still traveled to Iraq, probably suspecting that the U.S. would not dare to target him.Indeed, nobody had expected the U.S. would carry out such a high-level attack. Under both the Obama and the Trump administrations, the U.S. seemed to have given Iran a free hand in the region — not responding to its provocations as long as Iran acted with plausible deniability. The basis of the U.S. policy became that Iran, not the U.S., had the upper hand. Just in the six months before Soleimani’s killing, Iran was accused of being behind tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf, the downing of a U.S. drone over international waters, and the targeting of Saudi oil facilities, besides the killing of the U.S. contractor and the storming of the U.S. embassy.Iran, then, had reason to feel that it could get comfortable around the U.S. Tehran suspected that the only tools the U.S. had were economic sanctions, which it could endure or circumvent through its proxy and state networks in the region. The new policy, under the current administration, started to deploy other tools, including the frequent targeting of Iranian proxies in places such as Syria — to prevent the building of similar networks as those it established in Iraq — and an extensive and enforced sanctions regime.Those tools started to hurt the Iranian regime and its allies. The increased pressure caused Tehran to act erratically, and the uncharacteristically provocative attacks last year were in large part symptomatic of its anxiety. Then came the killing of Soleimani, which was arguably a strategic, not a tactical, decision by the Trump administration, to reestablish deterrence and disrupt the cycle of escalation and counter-escalation.Despite alarmism, the circumstances around the killing of Soleimani show that the current policy toward Iran is working as intended. The “maximum pressure” approach is tightening the economic screws on Iran and organizing regional efforts to increase pressure on the regime. The intent is not just to force Tehran to “return to the table” to negotiate its nuclear program, as it is often publicly stated, but to reduce Iran’s ability to dominate the areas around it. The pressure is working not because it was not tried before but because it follows numerous challenges — primarily popular protests and the growing nationalist sentiments that are overshadowing the sectarian tensions that once helped the regime — that the Iranian regime is facing at home and in the areas where it has built deep presence.The “maximum pressure” is exacerbating these challenges for Iran. Also, Tehran’s attempts to mobilize Iraqis to end the U.S. presence in their country has so far failed, after Washington insisted that the presence now be more vital, to keep up the pressure against ISIS. Even Iran’s attempt to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its European allies backfired: After Tehran announced that it would no longer comply with the nuclear agreement’s limitations on uranium enrichment, the Europeans put Tehran on notice and threatened to reimpose sanctions.A major part of this effort is to convince the Iranian regime that the old policies that enabled it to fill the void, after the 2003 war in Iraq and the 2011 popular uprisings in the Middle East, are over. In this sense, the U.S. targeting of Soleimani could prove to be a game-changer for Iran’s role in the Middle East, not just because Tehran lost a shrewd operative but because the operation reminded it that it should not get too comfortable with its current behavior in the region. All the U.S. needs to do now is to press on with its policy, calmly and consistently, to limit Iran’s reach.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Julia Fox defends viral ‘Uncut Gems’ interview moment: ‘I was stoned’ | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
4m-p0_-ePd8
Alexia Echevarria pushed ‘RHOM’ producers to show more of son Frankie’s recovery | Page Six
February 17, 2022
E-wTaN9NfkI
Pete Davidson rejoins Instagram amid Kanye West drama | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
SsC3dmsI6t4
Aaron Rodgers And Shailene Woodley Reportedly Break Up | TMZ LIVE
February 17, 2022
FoErdRE8Qe4
Chet Hanks Done Talking About Famous Parents, Becoming Personal Trainer | TMZ
February 16, 2022
5_UrULOkQ6o
Woman Stabbed at Foot Locker During Nike Shoe Release
February 16, 2022
TfuXMs1JdVg
Steph's Freaky Side, "Summer House" & "Love During Lockup"
February 17, 2022
9W_raO0zlA8
Tay or Nay, Offset's Sushi Anxiety & Nick on Monogamy
February 17, 2022
PauYHpJRA6o
Kim Kardashian & North West TWINNING in Matching Pajamas | E! News
February 17, 2022
b-_Oib6R108
Adam McKay - Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony
February 17, 2022
tYtzsHoOZzo
Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and the Cast of 'Uncharted' Talk Most Challenging Stunts
February 15, 2022
d3ksX-SKi8c
Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell on ‘The Adam Project’, ‘Deadpool’, and Possible ‘Star Wars’ Role
February 16, 2022
5TxJsbJr9Dk
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
04
May
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Playoffs
Seattle Sounders - Pumas
04
May
USA: Major League Soccer
FC Cincinnati - Toronto FC
03
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Bournemouth - Nottingham Forest
02
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Brentford
02
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Fulham - Luton
02
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Real Betis
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Eintracht Frankfurt
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach - RB Leipzig
02
May
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Salernitana
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Leicester City
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Mallorca
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Bologna
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Arsenal
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Chelsea
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Inter Milan
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Fiorentina
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Venezia
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Rayo Vallecano - Real Sociedad
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Mainz - Bayern Munich
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bochum
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Liverpool
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Atletico Madrid
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Manchester City
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Espanyol
30
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Sassuolo
28
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Chelsea
27
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Liverpool - Villarreal
27
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Inter Milan
26
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Manchester City - Real Madrid
25
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Sassuolo - Juventus
24
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - AC Milan
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Everton
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - West Ham United
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Empoli - Napoli
23
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brentford - Tottenham Hotspur
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.