Missiles fired by Iran at two airbases in Iraq that house American troops on Tuesday appear to be the most hostile assault on US interests since the 1979 US Embassy seize in Tehran when it held 52 American officials and diplomats hostage for 444 days. Iran admitted that attack in the wee hours of Wednesday was in response to the killing of its General Qasem Soleimaniby a US drone attack in Baghdad last week. Whether the attack proves to be the biggest test for Donald Trump’s presidency remains to be seen.
Undoubtedly, the attack has raised the spectre of a war with Iran. It is a country despite being no match to the military prowess of the US has a strong army of half a million, including 150,000 fighters from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Iran’s ballistic missiles can reach farthest to Eastern Europe and Israel, but there is a dispute about its nuclear capabilities.
What happens next?
The Hard Revenge has given a reason for celebration to the people of Iran, as revealed by Mohammad Farahani, editor-in-chief of a news agency having close links to Iran’s judiciary. But the most pertinent question doing the rounds is ‘What happens next?’ or, more precisely, what are Trump’s options. Considering the military involvement of the US troops in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it is already entangled in three complex and protracted conflicts in the Middle East. Trump has repeatedly pledged for bringing the troops home, to stop the US spending its revenue thousands of miles away and put an end to spilling of American blood.
Escalations are unlikely
Trump’s conciliatory tone is evident from his observation that Iran is appearing to be standing down, which seems a very good thing not only for the parties concerned but for the world. Notable is the low key and muted response from Trump in a tweet immediately after the attack saying that all is well. His subsequent statement to the nation had a long list of priorities without much detail that harped on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He prefers imposition of tough, additional economic sanctions and urges upon the European signatories to the nuclear deal to quit it.
What kind of war will it be?
Soleimani has been the galvanizing figure to Iranians even after his death. If Trump chooses a military response on a full scale, he should be prepared to face crafty and shrewd adversaries who take pride in fighting for their country. For decades Iran has been cultivating its vast network of armed groups across vast stretches from Lebanon to Yemen that the general was tasked with and what he had been doing in Baghdad at the time of his killing.
These armed groups would support Iran on the battlefield that would be different from a traditional battlefield as the conflict would target the US assets targeting troops and civilians in clandestine attacks and raids resembling Guerrilla warfare.
However, the messages coming from Iran would make us believe that they are happy with their proportional response, and that was the end of it.