Iran couldn’t afford to do nothing in response to the U.S. drone strike that killed their top military leader Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Iraq — nor risk doing something that would bring about fearsome retaliation for further aggressions against American lives and properties —so they did what amounted to doing nothing of both.
The most recent conflict calamity-in-the-making followed in the aftermath of a Dec. 27 Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militia Kataeb Hezbollah’s 30-plus rocket attack against the Kirkuk military base in Iraq that killed a U.S. Iraqi security training contractor and injured several others.
American F-15 warplanes retaliated two days later by bombing three sites, one in the city of Al-Qaim about 400 km northwest of Baghdad, and two in Syria's Euphrates River Valley.
Sources reported that 25 people were killed, and 50 were wounded.
In response to the bombings, militia-backed protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. They broke windows, destroyed security cameras, and set fires before being pushed back by U.S. troops firing tear gas.
Gen. Soleimani who ordered the Baghdad attack was believed to have been in Iraq planning assaults on at least four other American embassies. Soleimani, who headed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite Quds Force unit, was also responsible for regime activities that killed more than 600 American military personnel and maimed thousands of others.
The Trump administration has justly linked funds used to perpetrate Iranian-sponsored violence through Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shiite militias in Iraq, and Iran’s own agents around the world, to billions of dollars released by the Obama administration’s 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
That so-called "Iran Nuclear Deal" gifted Tehran mullahs with between $100 to $150 billion in sanctions relief, and another $1.5 billion in unmarked hostage release extortion currency flown in dead–of-night. In exchange, we received an untrustworthy and unverifiable offer to briefly postpone Iran’s race to build arsenals of nuclear weapons and long-range ICBM delivery systems.
Lots of that JCPOA treasure also wound up in the bank accounts of Tehran’s senior government officials. Rather than helping the well-being of its people, many of those billions have been shelled out for dictators, terrorists, and rogue militias. Meanwhile, the rial’s value has collapsed, fuel and water shortages are chronic, and a third of Iranian youth are unemployed.
Beginning in December 2017, vast numbers of protesting demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, Arak, and other cities.
Many chanted, "You have plundered us in the name of religion!"; "The people are paupers while the mullahs live like gods!"; and "Leave Syria, think about us!"
Iran is now squeezed in the middle between resistance from its own population and "maximum pressure" policies of a seriously committed new American sheriff.
Last year, the Trump administration imposed sanctions against numerous Iranian individuals and entities. Included are ESAIL, the country’s largest shipping network; key people tied to oil exports used to finance IRGC and Quds Force activities; the bank account of top JCPOA negotiator Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif; and even upon transactions of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A new round of sanctions following the Dec. 27, 2019 rocket attack will target individuals involved in Iran’s construction, manufacturing, textile and mining sectors, including its largest steel and iron manufacturers.
Iraq, whose Kirkuk military base was targeted by Iranian missile strikes, doesn’t want to be forced to pick sides between America and Iran. Earlier this month, the Iraqi parliament voted to demand withdrawal of America’s more than 5,000 troops who are currently supporting the country’s fight against ISIS.
President Trump recently told Fox News that he’d be "OK" to have our troops withdrawn.
This position is consistent with his harsh criticism of dreadful consequences of America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, along with consistent statements that he does not want another long-term U.S. Mideast military engagement.
While repeatedly demonstrating exceptional willingness to talk with America’s staunches adversaries, the president has also shown that he is not afraid to use military power when needed. Any doubters should put that question to remnants of the Islamic State, the Taliban, or the Assad regime.
As for what's next, this leaves the mullahs with three options:
- Iran can continue to resist sanctions, while its domestic economy and terror proxy allies suffer under growing resource constraints in the face of increasing unrest and resistance from its own population.
- Iran can very foolishly launch a large-scale ballistic or cyber attack on Americans, or initiate a dash for an atomic bomb, either of which will trigger a massive and punishing response.
- Iran can enter into serious negotiations to end its nuclear weapons and missile programs and its scheme of terror and subversion in neighboring states in exchange for ensuring a safe and prosperous future for its citizens.
This time, there’s only one mutually exclusive choice — and it’s entirely theirs to make.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including “The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives” (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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