INTL CONFLICTSMIDDLE EASTOPINION

Iran challenges Trump: This does not end the war, it is just a beginning of another clash of civilization

By Harsha Senanayake

Iran’s topmost security and intelligence commander: Major General Qassim Suleimani exterminated early Friday in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport was accredited and commanded by President Trump, American officials said. Instantaneously afterwards the attack, President Trump twitted the American flag in his twitter. Some American patriots might defend the engagements of President Trump led American administration, however American silhouette of war escorts the world for another War despite President Trump’s testimonial: the attack will end the war.

Who is Maj. General Qassim Suleimani?

The commander, Maj. General Qassim Suleimani, who commanded the utmost prevailing Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed along with several high officials from Iraqi militias sponsored by Tehran when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport. General Suleimani was Iran’s utmost influential security and intelligence commander. He was a longtime leader of its Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, the foreign- facing branch of the countries, most authoritative security apparatus who reporting merely for the supreme leader of Iran; Ali Khamenei. He functioned meticulously with Iraqi and Lebanese allies, nurturing proxy forces to form a Shiite axis of power throughout the region. His profile rose amid the fight to prop up President Bashar- al- Assad of Syria, and later the fights against the Islamic State. He rose confirmed swiftly during the brutal Iraq- Iran war of the 1980s and since 1998, he was the head of the Revolutionary Guards; the most influential Quds Force work with a military strategy of nurturing proxy forces across the world.

In the West, Maj. General Qassim Suleimani, was seen as a clandestine force behind Iranian operations of international terrorism. According to official security intelligence of the United States of America, he and other Iranian officials were designated as terrorists accused of a plot to exterminate the ambassador of Saudi Arabia, one of Iran’s chief adversaries in the region, in Washington, Predominantly, the existing President of America recorded the intact Quds Force as a foreign terrorist group, despite the nature of the forces and robust backing and reputation it advances all over Iran. In Iran, many saw him as a larger-than-life hero, particularly within security circles. Anecdotes about his asceticism and quite a charisma merged to produce an image of a warrior- philosopher who became the backbone of a nation’s defence against a congregation of adversaries.

What America Ponders, Will God Save America

In Iran, the leadership convened an emergency security meeting, and the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a statement calling for three days of public mourning and then retaliation. Words of supreme leader graced “His departure to God done not end the path of his mission.., but an act of forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last nights on their hands.” Despite the testimonials of President Trump: the attack over Suleimani has been taken as a defensive measure to end the future wars, United States officials were braced for potential Iranian retaliatory attacks, feasibly including cyber-attacks and terrorism, on American interests and allies. The death of Maj. General has triggered the regional security anxieties while reassigning the region for a possible war zone. Israel, too, was forming for Iranian strikes. Some of the country’s more popular tourist sites, including the ski resort at Hermon, were closed and armed forces went on alert, officials said.

However, American intelligence stressed that “General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region;” the Pentagon said in a statement, “General Suleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.” Yet, it did not intricate on the precise intelligence that led them to carry out General Suleimani’s killing; the highly classified mission was set in motion after the American contractor’s death on December 27 during a rocket attack by an Iranian-backed militia. What essential to comprehend here is by killing General Suleimani, Trump administration seized a stroke that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had rejected, fearing it would lead to war between the United States and Iran.

While many Republicans whispered that the president had been defensible in the attack, Mr Trump’s most noteworthy use of military force to date, critics of his Iran policy called the strike a reckless unilateral escalation that could have drastic and unforeseen consequences that could ripple violently throughout the Middle East.

According to Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, “Soleimani was an adversary of the United States, that’s not a question…, the question is this- as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?” Similarly, the House of Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted a response to Trump’s tweet threatening to “quickly and fully strike back, if Iran retaliates. “This media post will oblige as a prompt that war powers reside in Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Power Act, and that you’re not a dictator,” the House of Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted.

The Powerful Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired by Representative Eliot Engle, a New York Democrat who has said he will oppose military actions by the Trump administration no sanctioned ahead of time by Congress. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has tweeted she is introducing a “War Powers Resolution” to preclude an illegal war with Iran is also on the committee.

Another tweeter message of Chris Murphy cited that “the moment we all feared is likely upon us…, an unstable President in way over his head, freaking with all his experienced advisers having quit, and only the sycophantic amateurs remaining. Assassinating foreign leaders, announcing plants to bomb civilians. A nightmare.” As a result of the demise of Suleimani, Iraq’s parliament voted to expel American forces from the country for violating its sovereignty. Iran declared that it was abandoning constraints on its nuclear program and the nuclear agreement which signed in 2015, and the American military terminated operations against the Islamic States to focus on protecting itself from Iranian retaliation. Lawmakers in Iraq’s Parliament voted Sunday in favour of a resolution that calls for culminating foreign military presence in the country. The resolution asks the Iraqi government to end the agreement under which Washington sent troops more than four years ago to help fight ISIS.

Speaking to lawmakers in Parliament, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that after the assassination of Soleimani, the government has two choices: End the presence of foreign troops in Iraq or restrict their mission to training Iraqi forces.” As a prime minister and supreme commander of the armed forces, I call for adopting the first choice,” Abdul-Mahdi said.

Abdul-Mahdi resigned last year in response to the anti-government protests that have engulfed Baghdad and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Political factions have been unable to approve on a new prime minister, and Abdul-Mahdi continues in a caretaker capacity. However, one day after the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel 5000 American troops from the country Mr Trump said “if they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions as they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.” According to Trump “we have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that’s there, it cost billions of dollars to build, long before my time we’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it. However, the problem would be if America is not going to abandon its bases in Iraq, trump has to shield its foreign bases by any charge since Iran already threaten to quickly and fully strike back. These media post will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S person or target, the United States will quickly and fully strike back, and perhaps in a disproportionate manner. However, these actions of Trump administration were critiqued by local and international stakeholders.

Iran Abandoned Limits on Nuclear Program

Iranian state television reports that the country will no longer abide by any of the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal. The announcement came Sunday night after another Iranian official said it would consider taking even-harsher steps over the U.S. assassination of Soleimani. State TV cited a statement by Iranian president’s administration saying the country will not observe limitations on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities. It did not intricate on what altitudes it would immediately reach in its program. However, the demise of Soleimani escalates the tension in the Middle East, particularly the fear of another clash between civilizations.

When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, he vindicated unilateral actions by saying the accord was flawed, in part because the foremost restrictions on Iran ended after 15 years, when Tehran would be permitted to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wanted. But now, instead of bucking to American pressure, Iran declared on Sunday that those restrictions are over- a decade ahead of schedule. Iran’s announcement essentially sounded the death knell of the 2015 nuclear agreement. And it largely recreates circumstances that led Israel and the United States to consider destroying Iran’s facilities decade ago, again bringing them closer to the potential of open conflict with Tehran that was avoided by the accord.

Iran did stop petite of abandoning the entire deal on Sunday, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and its foreign minister held open the possibility that national would return its provisions in future- if Trump reversed course and lifted the sanctions he has imposed since withdrawing from the accord. That, at least, appeared to hold open the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp to the major escalation in hostilities since the United States killed Maj. General Qassim Sulemani, the second most powerful official in Iran and head of the Quds Force. But some prominent experts declared that the effort to encompass Iran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomacy was over. “It’s finished, “ David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation said in an interview. “If there’s no limitation on production, then there is no deal.”

Significantly, Senator Elizabeth Warren responded to a tweet from Mr Trump in which he quantified the United States has 52 Iranian sites targeted should Iran strike “any Americans or American assets” – more than 2300 years ago, the Persian capital of Persepolis was scorched by a foreign warrior in a fatal blow to the empire and its rich heritage. The ruins of the ancient city, in modern-day Southwest Iran on a target list of 52 sites he has threatened to attack as tensions escalated between Washington and Teheran. Trump did not classify which places the United States might strikes, as he warned on Twitter that he would order 52 in all, one for each American who was held hostage for the duration of the Iranian Revolution takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran 1979. Yet, he said on Saturday that some of the sites were very high level and vital to Iran and the Iranian culture.

This illegal promotion of war and tension in Iran by the President of the United States of America can be painted as the violation of International Law by the most prevailing democratic country in world map with the intention of eradicating one of the most historical civilizations of the world. Military attacks against cultural sites are against the international law, and surprisingly the United States has condemned the Islamic State and Taliban for similar destruction. Iran foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, shot back: “A reminder to those hallucinating about emulating ISIS war crimes by targeting our cultural heritage: through millennia of history, barbarian have come and ravaged our cities, razed our monuments and burnt our libraries. Where are they now? We’re still here and standing tall.”

Samuel Huntington in his work: Clash of Civilization cited the illusions constructed by the American political and cultural supremacy throughout the time. For instance, the American self-vested responsibility as the defender of democracy resulted to spread American style democratic values over the rest of the world and significantly, America has abandoned the values of different other civilizations by conquering the orient. As mentioned by Edward Said ‘America led west conquering the rest’ reappeared with the American war strategy of destroying culture and cultural sites of Iran. These engagements sited by Senator Elizabeth correctly and mentioned “you are threating to coming war crimes, by threating on cultural sites of Iran. We are not at war with Iran, The American people do not want a war with Iran. This is a democracy, you do not get to start a war with Iran and your threats put out troops and diplomats at greater risk.

Former Vice President Joe Biden sharply criticized President Trump’s tweets from earlier in the day “warning” Iran.” No President has the right to take a country to war without the informed consent of the American people. The informed consent,” Biden said. “And right now we have no idea what this guy has in mind.” “But when you make statements like that it just seems to me he’s going off on a tweetstorm of his own and it’s incredibly dangerous and irresponsible,” Biden continued. “I have no idea whether he has coordinated with any of our allies. I have no idea if he has the support of his own generals and national security team. This is a guy who seems to be unmoored.”

Is There a Possibility of War with Iran?

In the hours after an American drone strikes in Iraq killed Iran’s most important military leader Maj. General Qassim Suleimani, a question has dominated social media is “Could this lead to war between the United States and Iran?”

In a sense, it already has. The killing of general, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, its elite security and intelligence unit, encounters virtually any definition of an act of war, a categorical difference from the shadowy conflicts that the United States and Iran have engaged in for years. To Iranian eyes, it is akin to Tehran ordering the death of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But it remains uncertain where this attack, which follows weeks of tit-for-tat accelerations between two countries.

Iran is a regional power with far more sophisticated military capabilities that any country than the United States has gone to war with since World War II. It is a far cry from Saddam Hussein’s crumbling Iraq or armies of North Vietnamese irregulars, and it has invested years of preparation in enduring a possible war. Iran’s escalations are expected to be asymmetric, which means using proxies or small attack groups to target American forces, allies or economic interests. Iran has also shown a willingness to target civilians. American adversaries have had little success in consuming asymmetric attacks to force Washington to back down- just as the United States has never found a reliable strategy for deterring asymmetric attacks. The greatest risk may be that asymmetric Iranian warfare reaches a point where the United States feels compelled to strike Iran directly. Analysts fear that this could lead to direct, sustained war, but no one can say for sure how easily that might happen.

Yet, Iran could barely win a bombardment war with the United States, but its conventional forces would make any ground war costly and drawn out, analysts’ project. The retaliate will happens, that’s not primarily out of national pride or saving face, but because of the fundamental drive of any state: self- preservation, which embraces preserving its top leaders. Killing one of those leaders is more than a slap in the face of a blow to military capabilities, it is a threat to the functioning of the state itself. Iran will feel compelled to retaliate if only to demonstrate that killing its leaders will trigger counterattacks dire enough to deter the United States from doing so again. But it is difficult to predict how severe that retaliation will be, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the region.

Harsha Senanayake is a researcher at Social Scientists’ Association- Sri Lanka and a guest lecturer at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He has acquired a masters degree in International Relations from the Department of International Relations, South Asian University, New Delhi, India and a specialised degree in International Relations from the Department of International Relations, University of Colombo.
Harsha serves as an AIPE fellow- TFAS USA. He has authored few books including The Changing Patterns of USA- Japan Security Relations: Case Study of Okinawa and The Human Security Discourse and Seeking Peace: Field Work Analysis Based on the Sri Lankan Civil War.

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