Breaking a 5-day silence over its response for the US killing of General Qassem Soleimani, on Tuesday Iran said it was assessing 13 scenarios to inflict a "historic nightmare" on the US. "Even if the weakest of these scenarios gain a consensus, its implementation can be a historic nightmare for the Americans," Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran's national security council, was cited by Fars news agency, adding that, "For now, for intelligence reasons, we cannot provide more information to the media."
Iranian officials previously said that U.S. forces in the region will be targets, and overnight the Iranian parliament on Tuesday designated the Pentagon and affiliated companies as terrorists. In response, the U.S. issued a warning to shipping in the Middle East over the possibility of Iranian action against U.S. maritime interests, the Associated Press reported, citing a statement.
Soleimani's death has rippled through the Middle East, with the U.S. and its allies on high alert for a retaliation attack by Iran.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said Tuesday that the U.S. would suffer consequences for the killing of Soleimani "at a time and place of Iran's choosing." Zarif added the U.S. must leave the Middle East and warned that if they don't, a new multi-generational war could erupt.
The leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Major General Hossein Salami, told tens of thousands on Tuesday for the burial of Soleimani in the city of Kerman that Iran was ready to "set ablaze those places Americans hold dear" over the killing of the former commander. Thousands chanted "revenge, revenge," as the IRGC leader declared "we will take revenge. The revenge will be vigorous and unwavering, woeful, and terminal."
"We will surely take revenge, but if America dares takes any action, we will set alight those places Americans hold dear. They know where those places are." Related: US Urges All Americans To Leave Iraq After Soleimani Assassination
"We will burn the places they love"— BBC Monitoring (@BBCMonitoring) January 7, 2020
IRGC Commander Hossein Salami reaffirms Iran's vow to avenge the death of Qasem Soleimani pic.twitter.com/bCqxco1nsL
Earlier, President Trump outlined 52 Iranian sites that U.S. forces would attack if Iran dares to retaliate.
And while the world await for Iran to pick one or more of the 13 scenarios, on Monday the Pentagon dispatched additional forces to the Middle East, even as conflicting signs emerged about Washington’s commitment to remaining in Iraq.
The three-ship Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group was ordered to move to the Persian Gulf region from the Mediterranean, where it has been exercising, according to a U.S. official. The group, which includes about 2,200 Marines and a helicopter unit, follows the deployment of about 3,500 soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne to Kuwait late last week.
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I would hit some of their air fields with a few cruise missiles, and call it a day. A major Middle East war has the potential to collapse the entire financial system, should oil be cut off from the Persian Gulf for more than a few months. A global oil shortage will start a downward economic spiral that will be hard to reverse, once it gets going.
Iran will retaliate but its retaliation will be measured and calculated to hurt the United States but not to escalate their conflict into a hot war. Therefore, Iran will opt for one of these measures.
1- Iran will exert maximum pressure on the Iraqi government to ensure the full withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq. This is something General Soleimani had been working on.
2- It could order its militia and those of the Hashd alShaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) to ransack the American Embassy in Baghdad and take some American diplomats hostages. This will lead to a massacre as the American Embassy in Baghdad is well defended. However, any massacre will serve to hasten the departure of the American troops from Iraq.
3- Iran could also order its militia in Iraq to attack American forces and bases and kill or take some hostages.
4- Alternatively, Iranian militia operating in Syria could attack American forces occupying occupying Syria’s oilfields in the Deir Ezzor region and try to kill or take some American troops hostages.
5- Iran could also order its allies in Yemen, the Houthis, to attack highly vital Saudi oil installation like Ras Tannura loading terminal on the Gulf with the aim of crippling Saudi oil exports and precipitating a global oil crisis.
However, the safest and most strategically important measure Iran could take is, in my opinion, to coordinate efforts with Iraq to force American forces out of the country.
President Trump may have intended by the attack to curtail the growth of Iran’s influence in Iraq and assert the United States’. His tactics will most probably cost him Iraq thus giving Iran a significant strategic victory. The Iraqi parliament voted on Sunday to evict the American troops from Iraq. Losing the US military presence would be strategically disastrous not only because Iraq is important in its own right, but also because it will mean the collapse of American presence in the Middle East. Moreover, it would be a tragic irony if America’s misadventure led to a greater Iranian control of Iraq.
The departure of American forces from Iraq will herald their withdrawal from the whole Middle East including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait leaving region to China and Russia as well as Turkey and Iran to fill the political vacuum.
If, however, the United States refuses to withdraw its forces from Iraq, a war of liberation could be started by pro-Iran militias such as the Hashd Al Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) with attacks on American military bases and installations.
A reminder from history is that the United States lost almost 5,000 dead and thousands of injured troops when Iraqi resistance forces went into attack against them in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. This time Iran will definitely give a helping hand.
Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
Really innocent humans going about their daily lives with innocence and a sense of doing good.
America does not like that attitude.
It has to feed the MIC, Pentagon and Israel to keep their stomachs filled and has laddered up 23 trillion dollars in outstanding local and global debt.
Look at the cities of America... the TV only shows good spots and not the real ones. Look at CNN, only talking of the impeachment and trouble in the Middle East but not Kashmir where the curfew has gone beyond 100 days. What super hypocrisy!
As long as the Muslims die, very good! Salams