Soleimani, Tehran’s next moves and the likelihood of World War 3: A Q&A with Iran experts

Large crowds attend the funeral of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani (Credit WikiCommons)

GENERAL Soleimani’s funeral has taken place amid a deafening clamour in Tehran for revenge and deepening tensions between the Islamic Republic and US.

With the animosity between the sides unlikely to be as easily buried, it is unclear what form the next round of recriminations will take.

International Institute for Strategic Studies Executive Director (Middle East), Sir Tom Beckett and John Raine, Senior Adviser for Geopolitical Due Diligence have shared their thoughts with Redaction News.

Here is what they had to say.

Q: Will the death of Soleimani damage Iran’s ability to operate in the region?

A: No. Iran’s networks of influence in the Middle East, that General Soleimani built, are bigger than him. These networks allow command, control and communication across the region that will be an enabler for whatever retaliation Tehran decides to effect.

Rather than a spectacular retaliation, Iran is likely to use its network to contest the US presence in the region wherever it can.  This will be done over time and presented as a narrative of continuous pressure on the US.

Absent its arch-calibrater – General Soleimani – the Iranian response is likely to be deliberate rather than showy.  

Q: Will Iran mount a response through its proxies/partners in? What will the probable action from Iran be after the airstrike?

A: Iran’s response is likely to be relative to the iconic status that Soleimani held.  It will need to be discernible.  

However, Iran must now factor in the US’s clear demonstration of resolve. 

IRGC Quds Force Major General Qasem Soleimani reported presence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Russia 2012 to 2018 (Credit: IISS)

While Tehran will plan a response, there is also a risk of demonstrations of defiance and capability made in sympathy with, but not orchestrated by, Tehran – especially from key partners such as Hizbullah and Ansarullah (the Houthis). 

Both were beneficiaries of Soleimani’s policies. 

In his absence they may, ironically, act more freely than they would have done had he been there to restrain them.

Q: What is the possibility for a new war?

A: US resolve was in question regionally (and by Iran).

Iran aligned PMU militias operational zones and installations, in Iraq (Credit: IISS)

This clear demonstration of US resolve is most likely aimed at persuading Iran that war would be wholly counterproductive.  

Neither the US nor Iran wants a hot war – though today Mike Pompeo promised to “confront and contain” Iran.

What the targeting and death of Soleimani does is set new parameters for US-Iranian conflict that will make the conflict harder to control and test the effectiveness of US deterrence, diplomacy and defence.  

All three have recently been ineffective. Whether they will be made more effective afterwards is the key question.  

For now, the ball is in Iran’s court.

Redaction cannot survive without your help. Support us for as little as $1 a month on Patreon:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s