The death of Iranian General Kassem Suleimani as a result of a US air strike in Baghdad led to a real social explosion in the Middle East. In many cities of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and even India and Pakistan, people entered the street and portrayed the victims, burning American flags and calling for rallies under US embassies.
Almost certainly, the protests will not be limited to rallies. That is why Washington is transferring additional military forces to the region and asks urgently to leave Iraq for all US citizens.
But despite this, the consequences can not be avoided.
Moreover, they are capable of striking not only in the Middle East region. Ukraine was also at risk.
The resonance that caused the missile attack, associated primarily with the figure of the deceased.
General Kassem Suleimani is a legendary person for the inhabitants of the entire region. To him - and this is not an exaggeration - even the enemies were respectful. And in Iran, he enjoyed popularity, which bordered on almost ritual worship.
Suleimani is one of the most influential security forces in Tehran, the commander of the elite special forces Al-Quds.
He was called one of the most dangerous people in the world and the main coordinator of Iran’s regional operations abroad. Of course, much is a blatant exaggeration: his image was artificially promoted by the media. For decades, so many rumors, legends and myths have arisen about him, few will say where the truth is, and where is the fantasy.
Although, in fact, he was not such an indispensable genius, but simply a deft and very effective manager and combat commander. Therefore, his death did not weaken the military-political potential of Iran, but became a heavy symbolic and ideological blow.
Al-Quds is the only structure within the Iranian Armed Forces (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) that is responsible for special operations outside the country.
The killed general was also involved in foreign policy in the region.
He was responsible for coordinating various pro-Iranian and Iranian forces in the region from the Palestinian territories and Lebanon to Iraq and Yemen. And in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, Suleiman has virtually unimpeded access to the political leaders of these states.
In Lebanon, the main "asset" of Iran was the Shiite Hezbollah movement, which also has a political party that won the last election in May 2018. In Syria, there are Iranian military units, advisers and pro-Iranian militia brigades. In Iraq, the "Popular Mobilization Forces" are considered the main allies of Iran.
And here it is worth recalling that as a result of the US strike, an equally well-known Iraqi politician, Abu Magdi Al-Mugandez, the commander of the military units of the same Popular Mobilization Forces in the Iraqi army, was killed along with an Iranian general.
Retaliation for assaulting an embassy
When Donald Trump announced the target rocket attack in Baghdad, committed with his sanction, he first stopped at the death of only Suleimani.
At the same time, the United States emphasizes that one of the reasons for the liquidation of the general is that, according to Washington, he “authorized” the recent attack by anti-American demonstrators on the US embassy in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the second victim, Abu Magdi Al-Mugandes, was no less involved in the events under the American embassy. The “Popular Mobilization Forces” led by him participated in the siege of the diplomatic mission, but were allegedly opposed to the assault attempt and tried to stop it.
At the same time, the killing by the Americans of not only an Iranian, but also an Iraqi official enhances the "bestowal" that the States are likely to face.
Both victims were "living idols" - the legends of the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-1988 (by the way, in 1983 Al-Mugandes was believed to have been involved in the attack on the US and French embassies in Kuwait through Western support for Iraq in that war), as well as active participants in the fight against US occupation forces in Iraq (2003-2007).
There were also pages in their biography when both turned out to be situational partners of the Americans. Both victims are one of the most effective military leaders during the fight against al-Qaeda (2003-2008), and architects of the confrontation of the "Islamic state" in 2014-2018.
Local politicians in Iraq will undoubtedly try to parasitize on this topic, cultivating anti-Americanism to earn political points.
Already there are calls for the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and denunciation of the relevant treaty with the States since 2008. Influential Iraqi political and spiritual leaders even call for the organization of a struggle against the United States, for the first time in a long time, publicly calling them "aggressors."
This appeal should not be underestimated, because at one time, after 2003, it was the guerrilla struggle that prompted Washington to liquidate its occupation administration and transfer power to Iraqi leaders. Moreover, the units, then carried out a guerrilla war against the United States, did not disappear anywhere.
It is important to understand that most of the current Iraqi politicians are somehow connected with Iran, which in the days of Saddam Hussein willingly granted asylum to its critics. Consequently, after his overthrow, other politicians, other than conditionally pro-Iranian, were not in Iraq.
A missile strike destroyed the precarious charter of the quo. Now, taking advantage of the outbreak of anti-American sentiment, Iran and radical politicians can inflate a real war with the United States on the territory of Iraq covered by protests and crisis.
And this will not be limited to Iraq alone.
In Iran, the death of Suleimani generally became a national mourning.
And if the US planned to weaken the American regime in Iran, then this did not happen. On the contrary, the attack united the Iranians around the regime, and the street demanded that the government "revenge for the great martyr Suleymani."
Iran has many opportunities for a response to the United States. Of course, Tehran will not declare war publicly, but it is worth waiting for a hybrid confrontation in territories where there are both American, Iranian and pro-Iranian forces. Potential hot spots: Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Palestine, the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, Saudi Arabia, Israel.
All means of undeclared warfare can be used: sabotage and subversive operations, cyberattacks, bombings, targeted killings of officers, seizure of oil and other vessels, attacks on embassies and consulates, the deployment of a subversive battle against American contingents in Syria and Iraq, provoking political crises, rebellion in Palestine, the overlapping Strait of Hormuz.
And, finally, the final collapse of the "nuclear deal" of 2015 and an increase in rates in nuclear races are not ruled out.
But the main thing is that the death of Kassem Suleimani hit the entire Middle East policy of the United States, burying the regional order built by the Americans themselves.
America's Interest Ricochet
According to the most likely version, Donald Trump took such a step for the sake of strengthening ratings before the US elections, under the influence of the armed and oil lobbies, and anti-Iranian hawks.
However, the missile strike not only finally burned down bridges for peace talks with Iran on a "nuclear deal" and destroyed the influence of the United States in Iraq, but also jeopardized the "Iranian revenge" by American troops stationed in the region. And in the event of an escalation of the conflict, it can have negative consequences on the ratings of Trump himself, because most Americans do not support a new war in the Middle East.
The killing of Suleimani puts the US allies in the region in an uncomfortable position, primarily Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both countries, although they support Trump's tough anti-Iranian course, are not really ready for war and do not want to fight.
Israel is in a state of political crisis after two unsuccessful early parliamentary elections, and is preparing for a third in March. Saudi Arabia reasonably doubts that the United States will defend them in case of war (this confidence has already been undermined after the attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019). Riyadh is not ready for hostilities and is much weaker militarily than Iran. Further escalation will be able to push the Saudis away from Washington and force them to look for alternative global allies, for example, Russia and China.
And Iraq is now completely lost for the United States.
The political system created by the Americans after the overthrow of Hussein is broken and discredited. A massive blow to her was dealt by large-scale anti-government protests that began in Iraq in October 2019. The US air strike puts an end to this system and finally cementes Iraqi anti-Americanism, heroes the Iranian curators of the region and strengthens the geopolitical opponents of the United States: and this again is Russia and China.
Firstly, this leads to tension in neighboring regions.
Secondly, the escalation of the confrontation threatens a new flow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa to Europe. This, if it happens, will further strengthen the far-right forces in the EU states that are not committed to Ukraine.
Thirdly, the aggravation of the Iran-US conflict is ruining the already shaky "nuclear deal" with Iran, untying Tehran’s hands in the production of nuclear weapons, which could provoke nuclear races in the Middle East, because other regional players have already hinted at their intention to get a nuclear weapons (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE). And the erosion of the global non-proliferation system is a blow to all weak countries and the world security system.
Fourth, rising oil prices due to aggravation in the Persian Gulf is unpleasant news for the EU, China and Ukraine, and for Russia, on the contrary, it is desirable.
And fifthly, no one can be sure that the current tension will not lead to a “big deal” for key global players with Russia to guarantee its non-participation in the conflict on the side of Iran.
What kind of concessions the Kremlin will ask in this case - I don’t even want to speculate.