The latest developments in West Asia point to Iran’s ongoing strategic response to Washington’s assassination of General Qassem Soleimani last January.
Israel-UAE announcement to establish a base in Yemen, US withdrawal of troops from Camp Taji military base in Iraq after repeated attacks, and the marginalization of takfiri fighters in Syria to small patches of land are all signs of Iran’s ongoing push to eliminate the US presence in the region.
This is something Tehran declared to be its actual response to General Soleimani’s assassination, immediately after destroying two American military bases in Iraq.
To understand how Iran’s response to Soleimani’s assassination is progressing, we would need to look back to 2008.
When Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in February 2008 by Israel, the Zionist regime went on a propaganda campaign portraying it as a major blow to Hizbullah.
Fast forward to 2020. Hizbullah is a regional power player with a state-like military capabilities and a political kingmaker in Lebanon.
Additionally, Hizbullah has become a fundamental pillar of the Syrian state system, where the movement is part of a strategic decision-making process.
In 2008, Hizbullah was simply a strong resistance movement, today, it’s a regional player, a fact admitted even by its foes.
Iran’s success in Iraq will be impossible for the US to contain, much less stop.
While Washington has to operate through mercenary fifth columnists who are on America’s side for purely opportunistic reasons, Iran operates in Iraq through the centuries old socio-religious institution of Marjayiyah, which is impossible for non-Muslim state or non-state actors to influence, let alone penetrate.
No matter how much money and military training the US continues to waste in Iraq, the Iraqi masses are moved by the ulama of Najaf and Qum, not those dressed in Western suits who collect a paycheck from Washington.
Iran’s successful move in aborting the secessionist Kurdish move in Iraq, which the US and Israel spent decades in cultivating is the most spectacular manifestation of Iran’s strategic geopolitical capabilities in Iraq.
As Ali Khedery, a former senior adviser on Iraq policy in the Bush and Obama regimes admitted, “It is a catastrophic defeat for the United States and a fantastic victory for Iran's Revolutionary Guard.”
Even though the US invaded Iraq with hundreds of thousands of troops and wasted trillions to bring the country into the US sphere of influence, it is Iran’s political and economic influence which has increased drastically over the past decade.
In April 2020, writing for the Atlantic Council, Dr. Raz Zimmt, an Israeli research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) specializing in Iran, admitted that “anyone who continues to promote strategies based on the assumption that we are on the verge of a new Middle East without an Islamic Republic—which has, apparently, been ‘on the verge of collapse’ for decades—and without Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—who has been ‘on the verge of death’ for years—or without pro-Iranian militias in the region, will be forced to contend with reality again and again. Iran is a complex and sophisticated state with a long history and a variety of power centers.”
The latest UAE-Israel deal is another development which will significantly bolster Iran’s standing in the Arab world in the long-term.
It has exposed pro-American regional puppet regimes for what they truly are and revived Iran’s image once again as the sole independent Muslim country in the region.
As pointed out by Omar Ahmed, International Security and Global Governance expert, “the truth is that without Iran’s support for its allies, both state and non-state actors alike, the region would submit to the interests of the US and the settler-colonial state of Israel, neither of which have Palestinian statehood on their agenda… It is obvious from all of this that only Arab states aligned with Iran will oppose Zionism, regardless of what that price might be.”
While Western politicians and “experts” are analyzing the evolving dynamics in the Muslim world strictly through a transactional perspective like a checkers match, Iran is playing a chess game and winning.