In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei talks to clerics in his Islamic thoughts class in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday backed the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices and called angry protesters who have been setting fire to public property over the hike “thugs,” signaling a potential crackdown on the demonstrations. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Last week, the Trump administration showed the Iranian what ‘asymmetric’ warfare really looks like when it ordered the high explosive fragmentation of Qasem Suleimani. Suleimani was “a flamboyant former construction worker and bodybuilder with snowy white hair, a dapper beard, and arching salt-and-pepper eyebrows” who was also a vicious thug and an accomplished mass murderer. Suleimani had been deemed off limits by two previous US administrations but discovered, much to his misfortune, that things change.
Iran huffed and puffed and on Tuesday night launched the most inept retaliatory attack on US forces ever witnessed. The US had a choice of striking back and pretty much guaranteeing a cascade of tit-for-tat score settling attacks that might spiral out of control or demonstrating leadership and dominance. Yesterday, President Trump graciously offered the Iranian regime an off-ramp to a looming conflict that they cannot win. In essence he said, “you had your fun.” Despite the victory celebrations carried out, and a funeral that managed to kill more Iranians than the number of Americans killed or wounded in Iran’s retaliatory strike, and claims of vindication the fact remained that President Trump upended the old rules, caught the mullahs completely by surprise, and left them with a blob of hamburger meat instead of a debonair general.
Now Suleimani’s successor, the transparently thuggish Abdollah Araghi, has proclaimed that the missile attack wasn’t the real retaliation.
A senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, Abdollah Araghi, said on Thursday that Iran’s armed forces would “impose harsher revenge on the enemy in the near future,” according to a translated report from Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran spoke with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Thursday morning and warned of further action, according to the president’s office.
“If the U.S. makes another mistake, it will receive a very dangerous response,” Mr. Rouhani said, according to the statement.
The deputy general of the Revolutionary Guards, Ali Fadavi, also pledged vengeance, according to a separate report from the English-language version of Tasnim.
“This move was one of the manifestations of our capabilities,” General Fadavi said in a speech in the central province of Isfahan on Thursday. “No country has ever made such a great move against the United States as we did. We dropped dozens of missiles into the heart of the U.S. base in Iraq and they couldn’t do a damn thing.”
Just some observations here. First, the statement by Araghi, if one uses Google Translate on the original news story, does not contain a direct quote. Rather it provides a vague paraphrase:
Referring to the influential role of the IRGC in the current security of Islamic Iran, the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces stated that the Revolutionary Guards are in fact a strong arm of the leadership and the regime that will impose a more severe revenge on the enemy in the near future.
A lot is can be read into that but the statement does not state the “severe revenge” will be on the battlefield.
The Rouhani statement implies that Iran considers the score settled on Suleimani…but these people lie as a way of life so who knows what it means.
This Fadavi character also seems to be resting on the laurels of the military buffoonery that characterized a retaliatory strike that failed to damage US forces but seems to have killed several dozen “mourners” at a funeral and knocked down a Ukrainian airliner.
The problem facing Iran in the aftermath of the Suleimani attack was how to retaliate–because in the immortal words of Osama bin Lade, biodegradable terrorist douchebag and prophet, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong,” and nothing says “weak horse” like having your austere military leader and national hero blown to smithereens and doing nothing–and doing so in a way that was unambiguously done by Iran–because you want the credit–but was not so big that it would generate a major US response. The missile attack, when backed by Iran’s propaganda machine domestically and on NBC, footed that bill.
President Trump’s refusal to respond gave the mullahs a way out.
Their challenge will be keeping the Frankenstein’s monster they have created, the IRGC, in check and keeping it from carrying out its own foreign policy. If they do, I think it is safe to say that if President Trump is willing to whack a guy who caused thigh-sweats in the American media, both male and female, in a very public way, his successor had better think several times about going down that path.