IRAN is in a state of mourning following the death of Qassem Soleimani.
The red flag was raised over the Holy Dome Jamkarān Mosque to indicate vengeance – with a top Iranian military aide claiming US military targets were in sight.
But it’s not only Tehran that the US has placed on high alert.
The long-standing geopolitical alliance of Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are all certain to be dragged into a regional conflict – as are US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Redaction News spoke exclusively to Neda Bolourchi, a Middle East professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
She said that officials from Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Syria will initially heap praise on the Iranian general, who has played a huge role in defying US interests in the region for decades.
Ms Bolourchi said: “Publicly, all three will condemn the assassination of Soleimani. Soleimani is directly responsible for helping Lebanese Hezbollah against Israel in 2006, al Sadr against US forces from 2005-2011, and Assad against ISIS as well as revolutionaries in Syria.
“Nasrallah says he is in mourning and will make a speech on Saturday in Lebanon, al Sadr also says he is mourning Soleimani.
“Of the two, the latter’s assertions are more reserved because al Sadr spent the last couple of years distancing himself from Iran; al Sadr has fully taken on the nationalist mantle and wants both Iran and the US to leave Iraq.
“In this way, al Sadr and Assad might be more alike because both were beholden to Soleimani and wanted more unrestrained power, say, and sway than they had vis-a-vis Soleimani.”
Soleimani played a key role in propping up the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and is widely credited as the architect of ISIS’ downfall.
He shuttled constantly between Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to implement Iranian regional strategy.
Ms Bolourchi added: “The Quds Force Commander used a combination of excellent rhetorical skills to argue with adversaries and allies to see his position; he combined that skill with threats and intimidation.
“Populations across Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria will not mourn the assassination of Soleimani but will rejoice believing he finally received his just desserts for having starved, tortured, and killed their friends and family members.”
Scenes from Mashhad and Qom – two of Iran’s most holy cities – saw hundreds of thousands of Iranians spilling out onto the streets in a show of mourning.
There were indications of some small pockets of celebrations in Baghdad, however, in relief at the removal of the Iranian general who some felt had cast Tehran’s influence too heavily in Iraq.
This was a view also shared by Israel and Saudi Arabia – two countries well aware of Iran’s capability.
If the situation descends into a hot war between Washington and Tehran, analysts suggest that the two countries – as well as the UAE – could be in Iran’s line of sight, rather than the US itself.
Interestingly enough, today the Iraqi Prime Minister claimed Soleimani was carrying a response from Saudi Arabia yesterday to Iran and Iraq which may have defused regional tensions.
There is still confusion over the White House’s game plan with Iran.
Ms Bolourchi said: “Of course, MBS and Netanyahu – like everyone – are on high alert. People want to know from where the “intelligence” about a future attack on American personnel came. Iran knows that both leaders have been pushing, insisting, that the US do something more substantive, more detrimental, and more forceful against Iran.
“The US via a “no more war” President just delivered. Americans, from ordinary citizens to members of Congress, want to know what swayed Trump. And, they want some level of assurance that this is not a ‘wag the dog situation.'”
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