Iran and U.S. Tensions in the Middle East

There were many reports that the killing of the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on January 3 by a US military drone would expand into a major war. Of course, we don’t know what will happen in the future, but for now both the United States and Iran have made clear their intention to avoid war.

It might be possible that this deliberate killing may have tacitly been acknowledged in advance by both Iran and the United States. Both countries are clearly not opinion monoliths; therefore, explanations need to be presented as to which factions within each country could have been interested in the death of this person.

How did the U.S. military find the Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander in Iraq? It is impossible to attack someone unless schedules and whereabouts were known beforehand. It is also reported that on 6 January the U.S. military sent a letter to Iraqi forces by mistake wherein it was stated that the US troops were preparing to withdraw from Iraq. The U.S. military announced right after this that no decision to withdraw has been made and repeated this statement ever since. [1] There have also been reports that Iraq had been informed in advance by Iran about the Iranian attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq on January 8. It is most likely that the U.S. military was also informed by Iraq; as a result, there were no fatalities.  President Trump strongly denied any intention of going to war but appealed for stricter sanctions against Iran and further NATO involvement in the region. Iran has also made it clear that it is not willing to go to war; however, it also calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

It is clear that neither the United States nor Iran is willing to start a war, and President Trump wants to withdraw the U.S. troops from the Middle East for quite some time. However, there must have been opposition by some U.S. politicians against the U.S. military withdrawal from this region. Iran should have previously demanded that the U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq. When we think about it this way, there’s an obvious overlap of interests on both sides.

But why did the US undertake such a dangerous action just now? It could be of very serious consequence if the national sentiment in Iran went out of control. The possibility of escalations undoubtedly remains.

Perhaps there might be a factor in the destabilization of Iran. It is said that the dissatisfaction of the Iranian people with politics is growing, as it is in Iraq. How many Iranians support the Revolutionary Guards? More and more people might not support the theocracy. If such problems in Iran were linked to the murder of the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, a major domestic political reform in Iran might be imminent.

[1] BBC: U.S. forces “falsely” send letter of suggestion of withdrawal from Iraq to Iraqi ArmyJanuary 7, 2020.

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