Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Major Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone attack in Baghdad.

THE INCIDENT

General Soleimani has been killed in a USA drone strike outside Baghdad airport. Other military commanders of Iran have also been killed in the attack. The attack has been claimed by the USA. He was in charge of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It is important to note here that the same organization had been declared a “Terrorist Organization” by the USA last year.

IMPORTANCE OF GENERAL SOLEIMANI

He was very close to the top leadership of Iran (Supreme Leader).

He headed the intelligence gathering and military operations.

He had a massive public appeal due to his clean and larger than life image.

He played a crucial role in Iran’s proxy wars in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.

His efforts in Syria brought down ISIS.

He is behind the creation of “Arc of influence” or which Iranians call “Axis of resistance” i.e. “Extending from the Gulf of Oman through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea”.

According to some analysts, this killing is equivalent to killing the USA’s vice president.

IMPACTS OF THIS ATTACK

RETALIATION BY IRAN:

Iran carried out a ballistic missile attack on airbases housing US forces in Iraq, in retaliation.

Iran’s state television reported that the country will no longer abide by any of the limits set under the nuclear deal signed with six major powers in 2015. However, Iran said that its cooperation with the IAEA “will continue as before.”

INSTABILITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST:

It will have a direct impact on crude oil prices. In fact, the prices have started rising as soon as the reports of the attacks started trickling in.

Domino Effect – The domino effect refers to how one action can have a knock-on effect on other related subjects. The unraveling of Iraq, the battleground of the U.S.-Iran conflict, is bound to affect Syria and Lebanon.

CONSEQUENCES FOR LEBANON

Lebanon is home to Iran’s most important regional collaborator, Hezbollah. Although an autonomous political player, Hezbollah takes help from Iran for financial and military support that has helped it solidify its base in Lebanon and confront Israel, a strong U.S. ally.

Hezbollah has acted as Iran’s foremost proxy in the Syrian civil war and has contributed substantially to the Assad

regime’s victory over rebels. Hezbollah considers Israel its foremost enemy against whom it last fought a major war in 2006.

Thus, this attack could also destabilize Lebanon politically.

CONSEQUENCES FOR IRAQ

The U.S. strike that killed Soleimani took place in Iraqi territory. So, this attack directly violated Iraqi sovereignty.

In addition to it, it also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the commander of Kata’ib Hezbollah, which played a leading role in the storming of the American embassy a few days earlier.

PMF is a coalition of Shia militias that now acts as an arm of the Iraqi armed forces. In retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination, Iran has targeted two U.S. military bases again in Iraq. Thus, Iraq is central to the U.S.- Iran confrontation.

A sympathy wave has turned the tide of popular opinion in favor of Iran as the majority of citizens of Iraq are Shia Muslims.

The wave of anti-Americanism also clearly depicts the fissure within the Iraqi polity between the Kurds and the Shia Arab majority. This was highlighted when the Kurdish representatives, in addition to most Sunni Arab members, boycotted the parliamentary session that passed the resolution calling for U.S. withdrawal.

This was because most Kurds consider American military presence essential to safeguard their autonomy in the north and to continue the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

The projected removal of U.S. forces and Soleimani’s killing are likely to embolden IS cells in Iraq to increase their terrorist attacks in the country and emerge once again as a threat to the Iraqi state and its population.

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