While President Donald Trump has made clear what he will do if Iran strikes “any U.S. person or target,” Iran is vowing to take “revenge” for the death of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force — which the Trump administration designated a foreign terrorist organization in April. Many are now asking the questions: What might Iran do and when?
Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and expert on “Iran and U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East,” said Monday on CNN that Iran might have the 2020 U.S. election on its mind.
“One of the things Iran has become effective doing is operating via proxy. And these days they are operating drones, so it adds another layer of deniability. My sense is we have to really widen the aperture and consider not only attacks on outposts and U.S. interests but also U.S. allies not only in the Middle East but throughout the world,” Sadjadpour began. “And my sense is this is going to be something that — we’re all focused on this at the moment. Iran is unlikely to do something in the next 48 hours. but they are not forgetting about this three months from now, six months from now when we’re in the general election campaign of 2020, which I think is going to put Trump in a very difficult position position.”
“On one hand, if he doesn’t respond to Iranian provocations he’s going to risk losing weak. If he does respond he risks a war, which he knows his base doesn’t want. So, I think Iran’s goal is to make Trump a one-term president,” he added.
Sadjadpour previously pumped the brakes on those predicting that we are on a crash course to World War III, noting that Iran “can ill-afford a full-blown war w/ the US while facing onerous economic sanctions and internal tumult, especially w/o Soleimani.”
“The predictions of today mean little; the impact of Soleimani’s death will take years to play out. Iranians warn of more bloodshed, while many Syrians and Iraqis are rejoicing that the man they hold directly responsible for countless civilian casualties is no longer around,” he said. “While many are predicting WWIII, the last 40 years of Iran’s history reflect that what’s paramount for the Islamic Republic is its survival. Tehran can ill-afford a full-blown war w/the US while facing onerous economic sanctions and internal tumult, especially w/o Soleimani.”
“What’s more likely is sustained proxy attacks against US interests/allies regionally and even globally. Iran has a long history of such attacks in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with mixed success; regime apparatchiks are already telegraphing,” he added.
[Image via CNN screengrab]