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Iran's Possible Response to Suleimani
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 7, 2020

I've Been Thinking:

The US assassination of Iranian al Quds head, General Qassem Suleimani, continues to be big news. Politicians, talking heads, anyone who has an opinion on the subject is spouting off about why the assassination was right or wrong and if the situation will or will not cascade into an all out war.

Israel and Israelis are justifiably worried. They are a convenient target for Iran if only because Israel is the biggest symbol and the most effective unifying tool in the entire Middle East.

My best analysis says that if Iran chooses to respond, they will use their proxies to attack US interests in the region and not engage directly with either the United States or with Israel. This was actually the role of Suleimani. He was tasked with the planning and execution of missions outside Iran using their proxies to strike at enemies of Iranian interests. He bolstered and trained the very groups and people who will now be called on to strike.

A full scale frontal war between Iran and the US is very doubtful. A direct strike from Iran and even from Iranian soil into Israel or to US bases is also unlikely.
Iran's most likely response will be calculated strikes by Hezbollah and by pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq - all, of course, with the assistance of Iranian advisers and weapons. The most likely target being US bases in Iraq.

Israel will not be entirely forgotten. Israel will likely be on the receiving end of a barrage of rockets, maybe even drone attacks, from across their northern border - but not from Gaza. (Gaza is a powder keg that even Iran will not be able to control.) The important calculation vis a vis Iranian proxies is which action will make the biggest statement. But the action cannot be so larges as to tilt the momentum so that Israel or the United States respond with even greater force.

Israel's counter response to Iran's proxy response to the US assassination of Suleimani will be based on damage assessment. If missiles land in areas without significant damage but still big enough to make PR splash in the Arabic and Persian press, escalated tensions will recede and revert to normal tensions.

However, should there any real damage - especially to human life, Israel will be forced to respond by ratcheting up the tensions. The United States will probably use the same calculus in deciding on their counter response.

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8 January 2020 10:59 AM in Thoughts

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