Iran-US relations remains the dominant headline stuff across the world, five days after the targeted killing of Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani, in an American drone strike. This time, it is the first Iranian retaliation that is in the news. Iran chose to hit two American military bases in Iraq with over a dozen ballistic missiles, an action it describes as self-defence.
Certainly nothing as dramatic as the American action on January 3rd, 2020, it has, however, got President Trump speaking of the damage being assessed. It is doubtful if conventional military actions such as this attack is what the world fears about an Iran at war with the US but who knows what next if diplomacy doesn’t stabilize the order before long.
From the look of things, this is going to be a war of attrition but in which something can easily trigger something else, given the multiplicity of interests involved, including distant agitators supporting one side or the other. So far, the United States is the loser in the court of public opinion, including its own leading global media institutions. Highly informed New York Times columnist, Michelle Goldberg is putting it to an unstable and impeached president pushing the U.S. toward war with Iran in her Tuesday, (January 6th, 20202) outing titled “The Nightmare Stage of Trump’s Rule Is Here”. Paul Waldman follows in The Washington Post with Trump’s Rationales for the Soleimani Killing are Falling Apart”. And so and so forth. Why this is so is intriguing since the theory is that the national media follows the flag.
On the Iranian side, there is an emerging distinction between Arabs and Palestinians. A January 7th, 2020 opinion by a Dr. Edy Cohen in the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies insists that “The killing of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is being celebrated across the Arab world by Muslims who were cruelly victimized by him in the service of Iran’s imperialist ambitions”. As far as this writer is concerned, it is only “one corner of the Sunni Arab Middle East that is not rejoicing at Soleimani’s death” and that is the Palestinian Arabs whom he says “are standing on the wrong side of history”.
With this sort of complexity, it can be a dreadful conflict to manage should Iran and the US dig deeper. But who or what will stop them and when?