Iran's geopolitical influence grows or weakens
Middle East - Is Trump planning a farewell attack on Iran?
Is Trump planning a farewell attack on Iran?
Observers express concern on the anniversary of the killing of Qassem Soleimani. An attack would throw the country into chaos.
It has been almost exactly a year since the US killed the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani with a combat drone on January 3, 2020. The tension between Tehran and Washington is correspondingly high at the moment. US President Donald Trump explicitly warned Iran against further attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad, which had been shot at with rockets shortly before Christmas. Shortly after Trump's announcement, US long-range bombers provocatively flew over the Middle East.
Observers like political scientist Tom Nichols believe it is possible that Trump will start a war with Tehran in his final days. Shortly after his election defeat in November, Trump asked his advisors about options for American military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. Trump's advisors advised the president against an attack at the time.
Soleimani, 62, died on January 3, 2020 when his vehicle was shot at by a US combat drone near the airport in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Soleimani embodied Iranian values such as courage and resistance, said revolutionary leader Ali Khamenei recently. His murder was "definitely" avenged. Soleimani's murderers, including Trump himself, are nowhere safe on earth, added Iran's chief justice Ebrahim Raisi.
The star of the Islamic Republic is falling rapidly
The death of the general, who is revered in Iran, tore a gap in the Iranian leadership structure that has not yet been filled. Soleimani commanded the foreign troops of the Revolutionary Guard and directed Iranian foreign policy. Under him, Tehran expanded its influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and fueled the conflict with regional rival Saudi Arabia through the war in Yemen. His successor Ismail Qaani does not have Soleimani's charisma and is more of a coordinator than an active shaper of Iranian politics.
This is not the only reason why Iranian influence in the Middle East is declining. Trump's sanctions have hit the huge country's economy hard and make it difficult for Tehran to financially support allied groups such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen. The corona pandemic, which is raging more heavily in Iran than in any other country in the Middle East, is also weakening the Islamic Republic.
Above all, however, there is growing rejection of the regime in Iran's areas of influence, while the archenemy Israel is doing better and better strategically thanks to peace treaties with Arab states. In Iraq and Lebanon there have been protests against Iranian influence for months.
So far, the Iranian regime has refused to make any changes. Anti-government protests were brutally suppressed. Tehran does not exude any real strength.
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