General Soleimani’s heart-wrenching martyrdom like a fruitful life had a strategic achievement for the Islamic Republic of Iran: reviving Iran’s effective deterrence against the US terrorist army and their hasty withdrawal from the region.
General Soleimani’s assassination in the beginning hours of January 3, 2020, was not the result of Trump’s emotional decision or immediate frenzy, but the result of over two years of entrapment by some regional allies of the US along with a number of fanatical Iran-hating officials and governmental institutes for laying the ground and convincing Trump to commit such a folly. The argument presented to Trump to convince him was that the Iranians were fully aware of the US domestic problems and its inability in waging another disastrous war in the Middle East, and for this reason the Iranians would not heed the US military threats and the action could revive the US deterrence against Iran and its allies in the region. However, what happened in practice was right to the contrary of the predictions and indoctrination of these people and institutes and strengthened Iran’s deterrence against America, the rushed US troops withdrawal from the region being one of its results.
The primary idea and the arrangements for assassinating General Soleimani began when Mike Pompeo took over presidency of the CIA. Pompeo who has been loyal to the Israeli illegitimate interests more than he cares for the US national interests Kicked off a new fabricated project of disinformation about the role of Iran and the Quds force’s strong hand in the Iraqi insecurities and killing of hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq. Before Pompeo’s actions, the general belief of the US elite was that the Iraqi unrest following the Saddam collapse was mostly a result of the operations of the former Baathi elements supported by the Wahabis and the Persian Gulf states, even Turkey, who saw the fall of Saddam the reason for change of balance of power in the Iranian interest and accused the US of offering Iraq to Iran in a golden tray. However, Iran did not see insecurity and instability in Iraq in its and the Iraqi nation’s interests and provided the elected Iraqi government with the most support to establish security and even made limited negotiations with the US to quickly establish a powerful government in Iraq (which naturally and based on the Iraqi demographics and the past records would be Iran’s friend). Anyway, Pompeo’s efforts for introducing Iran as the main culprit in Iraq’s insecurities ( despite Iran’s prominent role in Iraq’s stability and the ISIS defeat) provided the needed psychological grounds for the second phase of entrapment of Trump.
In the second phase, efforts were made to showcase the assassination of general Soleimani within the framework of a pompous grand strategy, that is “reviving the US deterrence against Iran.”, but the reality is, over the last three decades, one factor that created the Iranian deterrence against the US was the Iranian forces’ response to the US forces’ actions in the waning days of the 1988 Iran-Iraq war and at the end of the tanker wars. At the time, the US had its mind made to side with Saddam and help him cut off Iran’s production and export of oil, and directly made attacks on the Iranian forces and facilities, and much to its chagrin received serious blows for its adventures. Although at the time, due to the inequality of the military capabilities of the two sides, the Iranian forces suffered heavy damages, but in the end, they frustrated Saddam and his allies in achieving their goals in the Tanker War. More importantly is the unprecedented reality that Iran would leave no attacks even from the US unanswered, which sent the message to all parties that Iran, in retaliation of any attack even in face of inequality of the capabilities of the two sides, would mean business. This behavior of Iran was quite different from the other regional countries’ behavior which for many years denied and naturally let go unanswered such attacks. This precedent provided Iran with some sort of deterrence for the next three decades. However, Pompeo and his like-minded Israelis induced to Trump the Iranian behavioral records need not be generalized to the present situation and the Iranian commanders are not in the war-time mood any longer and, under the sanctions pressure, Iran would not dare to directly respond and would maximally, according to precedent, limit its actions to a gray war which in turn would be responded with military force. Maybe their example was the sporadic Israeli attacks in Syria. Of course, it goes without saying that the latent goal of the extremist neocons of raising such justifications was engaging the US in another Middle East war in the interests of Israel by exploiting Trump and his team’s inexperience and wishful thinking.
Following the assassination of general Soleimani and within the January 3 and 8 period of 2020, there was some drunkenness on the side of Trump, Pompeo and the others, along with threats against Iran of stronger responses in case of any probable Iranian reaction to the assassination (including Trump threat of attacking 52 targets, Iranian cultural centers included) and it was imagined that these threats, within the other analyses’ framework, would have deterred Iran’s response. However, the destructive, calculated and precise attacks of Iran in the morning of January 8, 2020, on the US bases in Iraq practically reversed these calculations. This time around, Iran’s attacks were stronger and more destructive than the daring but emotional acts at the waning years of the Iran-Iraq imposed war. The attack came to be known as the largest and strongest attacks on any US bases since the World War II and the precision and tactics employed in the attack revealed the utter frustration of the US defense missile systems ( around which there had evolved many stories and much propaganda). The result revealed the US forces and bases’ defenselessness in the region in face of the Iranian new and effective weapons and strengthened the US resolve to more quickly withdraw from the region. Also, Iran’s next intelligent action strengthened this deterrence. Iran declared that revenge of the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani had not yet been taken by the attack and reserved the right to pursue the people and military men involved in the assassination.
One strategic consequence of this deterrence was the US withdrawal of their missile systems from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East and the preference to use them for protecting their own sensitive centers in the region and abroad. The next result was a constant fear of damageability of the US military bases in the region, the increase of preservation and security costs of these bases and in the end acceleration of reduction and withdrawal of the US troops from the region, especially Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now with two years past the assassination, the issue could be analyzed from a bigger perspective. The US action was a UAV act of terrorism in a third country which lacked international legitimacy and was of the type of those cowardly Israeli acts of terrorism whose ineffectiveness in effecting strategic changes have been proved. The Iranian attack was a complete show of power in showcasing its new and strategic arms and the utter US equipment failure in countering these effective tools.
In conclusion, General Soleimani, who during his glorious life had many honors to his name, such as changing the strategic equations of the region , helping in the victory of the Resistance Axis in the 33 and 22 day wars against Israel, and defeating the ISIS, his martyrdom , too, had a strategic achievement for Iran which was strengthening and reviving the Islamic republic of Iran’s deterrence.
Alireza Miryousefi, Senior Expert at IPIS