How will Iran react in the wake of Soleimani’s death at the hands of US forces?
The main news in the international media is the killing of top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. The death, reportedly by a US strike, has triggered a heated debate by global political analysts, trying to speculate possible implications this may have on the already turbulent situation in the Middle East.
The US government has tried to rationalize the attack in Iraq though how many are willing to be convinced by the US argument is certainly a debate that would be stimulating. Since the international news agencies are avidly covering the death of the Iranian general, they should also carry out an on the street survey to ask the general people as to what they think about the US action.
The US-Iran face off is nothing new and this has been an issue of relentless analysis for at least four decades. But to understand this long-standing antagonism one needs to go back not to 1979 when the Shah was toppled and the US embassy stormed, but to 1953 when a democratically-elected government in Iran was ousted due to machinations orchestrated by the West.
According to Wikipedia: “The 1953 Iranian coup d’état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d’état, was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on August 19, 1953, orchestrated by the United States and the United Kingdom. Titled Operation Ajax (TPAJAX Project), this was the first covert operation by the USA to overthrow a government in another country during peace time.”
Unfortunately, this episode is hardly touched by either the international news agencies or the current day political analysts when they try to assess the Iran-US hostility.
Also, there is a tendency among many to simply bury the inconvenient past. Just like the effort by imperialist countries to airbrush the unspeakable tyranny they imposed on colonized nations by focusing on the so-called development of infrastructure which they did as rulers.
The seeds of antipathy towards the West were possibly sown within Iranians in the aftermath of Operation Ajax and only intensified in Iran in the 60s and 70s when the country became a pawn in the hands of the West.
Interestingly, from time to time, there are Facebook posts which purport to show the independent face of Iranian society with women dressed fashionably in the period before the 1979 revolution. These images are naturally in stark contrast to the pictures of Iranian women under the Islamic regime.
But while pictures prior to the fall of the Shah in 1979 try to show a progressive Iran, the truth is that when the revolution happened in 1979, it was wholeheartedly supported by millions of Iranian youths who felt that by becoming too Westernized their own national identity was being diluted.
Well, all that is the past but to understand the enmity, history needs to be presented to the full and not with certain areas redacted.
Ramifications of Suleimani’s death
As a keen observer of global politics, the first thing that comes to mind is that, in recent times, the US has not managed to work as a catalyst for peace in any global discord.
To be blunt, the US, followed blindly by the UK, only hampered global order by invading other nations on spurious causes. Before the Iraq invasion, the leaders of both the US and UK vociferously defended their decisions to go for the military option; we all know the rest.
Both Iraq and Libya are currently driven by clan warfare, militancy, and intolerance.
Most would agree that the US, as one of the strongest nations in the world, is more of a trouble-maker than a trouble solver.
Iran has vowed vengeance and this may not be just rhetoric. The tit for tat will continue. The strike that killed Suleimani was reportedly in retaliation for the killing of US weapons contractor and now the next move may be from Iran though where and how this will come is very hard to predict.
But this much is certain -- Iran, to maintain her image as a defiant force that stood up to US, will do something that will try show that US military might is not something they are afraid of.
But this reprisal may not be through a violent act. If the US attack unites the whole of Iran, irrespective of age, and Iranians and their allies solidify their pact, a strengthened anti-US force will soon become very visible. Also, a global platform may take form comprising social media users.
One other implication of the attack is the reinforcement of the belief held by many that the current US administration is averse to reconciliation, peace, or compromise.
The charade of the talks with North Korea is still fresh in our minds but we all know that to tame North Korea and carry on a trade war at the same time with China will be a tough act, if not an impossible one.
The US seems to open up confrontations at several fronts and the recent incident means that US diplomats across the world will have to resort to all the tricks in the book (and many outside the diplomatic manual) to ward off uneasy questions.
Form the angle of commerce, the US-China trade war has already had a dismal impact on global trade with several economists predicting a looming recession. At such a point, a kerfuffle with Iran will only jolt the global economy. The far-reaching impact may be more unemployment, unrest leading to collective public anger.
A question comes to mind: Is there a quarter which is deliberately trying to bring in a recession followed by social anarchy?
The world has stepped into 2020; the first 20 years in a new millennium with the US and her allies making the world more perilous by their fallacious interventions. Come to think of it, possibly the radical face of religion epitomized by IS would not be an issue of concern anywhere, if these invasions did not happen.
Towheed Feroze is News Editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.