US/IRANIAN SHOWDOWN: THE DAY AFTER…
The US and Iran have endured a sixty-five (65) year volatile relations. Welcome to the US-Iran conflict of the decade, which has set out series of events. Three (3) US drones each armed with four (4) Hellfire missiles tracked and launched successful strikes on the convoy of Quassem Soleimani just outside the Baghdad Airport, Iraq. The development led to the killing of Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al- Muhandis, the Commander of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Deputy Commander of Iran-backed militia known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, respectively along with five (5) others.
Iran with its claim of the use of weapon of choice and use of proxy forces, vowed crushing retaliation on the USA. It believed it has the knowhow, will and capability to so retaliate. Teheran threatened proportional response to the perceived US aggression and that, Soleimani is so important that a single target of attack on the US will not be enough. The US threatened to unleash its modern weaponry on Iran should any American or any of its Military bases be attacked. This back and forth between the USA and Iran which predates 2020, led to heightened tension. The tension rose to fever pitch, with attendant global focus, which resulted in sequential fallouts and unintended casualties, ever since the incident. The POTUS on his part, vowed to hit fifty-two (52) targets representing the fifty-two (52) Americans held hostage in Iran for four hundred and forty-four (444) days after being seized at the US embassy in Teheran in November 1979, should Iran retaliates Soleimani’s demise.
Following the outrage elicited by the death of Soleimani particularly in Iran, the al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabab militant group, attacked Manda Bay Airfield located close to Camp Simba US Military Base, housing both US and Kenya troops. The daring attack led to the death of three (3) Americans. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Spiritual leader, announced General Esmail Ghaani as Soleimani’s successor. The Iranian Parliament also met to urgently pass a bill declaring US Military Command at Pentagon and others as terrorists, while also calling for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraq soil, among other resolutions. The hugely attended funeral procession of the deceased Soleimani, subsequently led to the death of over sixty (60) mourners occasioned by stampede. The mourners were chanting ‘Death to America’, ‘Death to Israel’, marking the first time Iran honoured a single person with a multi-city ceremony.
The IRGC thereafter carried out multiple coordinated ballistic missiles attacks on Al-Asad and Irbil Airbase in Iraq both hosting US forces. Even though there was no casualty recorded as there was no American or Iraqi Military personnel or civilian that was hurt, this action by Iran, changed the dynamics and symmetry of the latest US-Iran conflict. In the aftermath, Iran warned to attack any State that enables the US to launch further aggression on Iran, including Israel’s city of Haifa and Israelis Military Centres.
The tension led to the shooting down of a Ukrainian International flight 752 shortly after take-off at Teheran, killing the 176 passengers and crew members. Iranian Government Officials denied responsibility. However, as it would later turn out, the airliner was downed by Iranian surface to air missile. This development engendered growing outrage and widespread escalating violence in Iran even till this day after it admitted it shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane. There has also been accusation and counter-accusation between the US and Iran of Iranian protesters being shot at by Iranian Security Forces. The death of Soleimani has similarly pushed Teheran to abandon the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. European US allies, including United Kingdom (UK), Germany and France have consequently trigger dispute mechanism over Iran’s nuclear deal of 2015 and therefore called on Teheran to abide by the deal it signed
?How long it will last and how wide the latest US/Iran face-off will take, is better left for conjectures. Until tomorrow and the day after, the US and Iran showdown will remain a development conflict with heightened tension, unless and until reasons, diplomacy and de-escalation are allowed to take centre-stage amongst the combatants.