2020 had a very hot start. So far, the theme seems to be war and peace and it’s deeply connected with the situation in the Middle East. The Middle East has been the topic of conversation in the Erdogan-Putin meeting, as well as Putin’s unprecedented trip to Damascus to meet Assad and Merkel’s visit to Moscow on Saturday.
The Ukranian Boeing which was accidentally shut down became a tragic symbol of human suffering. The world shuddered with tension as Iran launched rockets from its territory to American military bases in Western Iraq on the night that connected the 7th of January to 8th. The operation was called “Retribution” since it was held in retaliation for the killing of Kasem Suleimani in Iraq. Suleimani was a beloved Iranian general and the spiritual son of the supreme leader himself – Ali Khamenei.
It was reported that Trump personally ordered the killing of General Suleimani and the incident occurred on an official visit to Iraq. After a decisive attack on American bases, the tension between the two countries reached an all-time high, and many worried that war had already begun. In any case, this worry was imbued with a statement by the UN Secretary-General, urging both sides “to stop the escalation and start a dialogue.”
But it turned out that Iran was simply scaring The United States. Although most of the Iranian missiles overcame the American air defense systems and hit their targets, not a single US military member was injured. Some damage was sustained, however, Iran warned Iraq about the missile launch in advance which can be speculated as the United States knowing about the attack in advance as well. With this strike, Iran had declared the perfect retaliation as the internet flooded with a missile-slapped image of Donald Trump. The statement was published in several languages on the website of the spiritual leader of Iran, Khamenei, alongside his signature. The message read:
“This is just a slap in the face. Revenge is another matter. Last night, they received only a slap in the face. Military action in this form is not enough for this business. It is important to put an end to the US presence in a region that is evil and immoral. ” (Khamenei January 08, 2020)
It is certainly interesting that his NATO allies did not openly support the actions of the US president. Moreover, Democratic leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi urged Trump to stop the senseless provocations against Iran in the morning after the missile strike. She said, “We are closely following the situation after the bombing of US troops in Iraq, we must ensure the security of our military personnel, including stopping unnecessary provocations by the administration and demanding that Iran stop the violence. America and the whole world cannot afford war. ”
It can be speculated that President Trump doesn’t want a crisis with Iran in his election year as it is simply too risky. He stated he is not seeking a war with Iran but is ready to take action in the form of new economic sanctions. He said, “The United States will impose new sanctions on the Iranian regime. We have large, powerful missiles, they are accurate and deadly. We are working on the creation of numerous hypersonic missiles. But the fact that we have a lot of powerful new weapons does not mean that we will use it. We do not want touse this weapon.” After this statement, the world took a breath of relief as it seemed the most acute phase of the conflict had passed. However, Trump did not say he felt sorry for Iran but rather for himself. After all, the continuation of any provocations without real guarantees of victory threatens his chances for a second term.
So, let’s take a closer look.
Iran launching ballistic missiles at an American airbase sounds like a movie but it wasn’t a movie at all. On the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, it seemed that Trump’s actions in Baghdad gave the starting shot to a big war. Ali Khamenei made a statement that read: “We slapped the Americans last night, but the important thing is that the US presence is a source of corruption in the region. We need to put an end to this.”
The Great War has not happened yet, but the Iranian military still acted, the civilian plane with passengers on board the Tehran-Kiev UIA flight was inadvertently and accidentally destroyed by missiles from the Iranian air defense complex. The plane crashed 15 kilometers north of Tehran International Airport. All 176 people who were on board died. The Iranian authorities took quite a while before taking responsibility for the disaster which is interesting when considering similar tragedies. The USA, USSR and Ukraine, have all mistakenly destroyed civilian aircraft before.
Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated, “…all this is a consequence of America’s irresponsible and subversive actions. That night we were preparing for a full-scale military conflict, military planes were flying in the sky recently flown to the region, and the likelihood of a fighter or cruise missile appearing in our airspace was extremely high. ”
Tehran is ready to pay compensation to the relatives of the victims of the disaster -the majority of the dead were citizens of the Islamic Republic, and transfer the investigation materials and black boxes of the aircraft to Boeing specialists. The Iranian authorities pleaded guilty but made a reservation saying that the United States gave rise to an escalation, which ultimately led to the tragedy. That’s hard to argue. Americans attacked Iran, giving orders to kill the corps general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards when he was in Baghdad as an official at the invitation of the Iraqi authorities and enjoying diplomatic immunity. The President of the United States essentially declared war on the Islamic Republic.
General Suleymani was not just a well-known and popular military commander among the people and he was not just a conductor of Khamenei’s ideas. The murdered general, for many years, was the co-author of the project for Iran’s influence in the region, and an architect in the consolidation of the Shiite world. Furthermore, Suleimani was indeed one of the most visible fighters against the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He was a national hero in addition to becoming the stopper of anti-American forces in the region.
As the Shiite world said farewell to the general, millions escorted Suilemani on his final journey. They listened to the angry speech given by the general’s daughter. She said, “Families of American soldiers in the region witnessed the humiliation of America during the fighting in the Middle East. Now you will spend days waiting for the death of your loved ones.” Khamenei mourned the general who was ordered to be killed both as a figure and as a member of the state. The spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic was left without his most sympathetic follower.
After such a farewell, it seemed that Iran would choose the toughest action in response to itsthird most powerful statesman being killed. The rhetoric didn’t bode well at all: a prize of $ 80million was announced for Trump’s head by the head of the foreign affairs department Zarif daily on Twitter, making sure Trump would read it, calmly threatening Washington. At the White House, the US president even promised to destroy cultural heritage sites in the Islamic Republic.
At the same time, the Pentagon was transferring additional forces to the region, and experts were already wondering how long Iran could hold out. Tehran’s response turned out not to match the rhetoric. Ballistic missiles hit American bases for sure. The military destroying secondary buildings on strike at American facilities occurred for the first time since Vietnam.
The Iranians made it clear that they can shoot, they can shoot accurately, and the next time the target may be, for example, barracks with personnel. This time they were limited to a slap in the face. This hour-long war could be an example of how to demonstrate strength and not kill. But the catastrophe of the Ukrainian Boeing did not come out as a direct consequence of the escalation. Before blaming Iran, we must not forget who fired the first shot. Washington will probably try to take advantage of Iran’s honesty as the Trump administration is unlikely to miss such a chance to further demonize Iran.