Tehran will likely take time to consider its options, with few having expected the US president to go for the jugular like this
English writer and journalist Robert Fisk, who has been the Middle East correspondent intermittently since 1976 for various media and a Beirut-based correspondent for The Independent since 1989, wrote about the ongoing US-Iran situation that is rumored to be brewing World War 3 in his analysis piece of the ensuing issue published on The Independent on January 3.
"Is this war by accident or war by design? We've all said that a major war in the Middle East could start by accident. But no one thought Donald Trump would go for the jugular quite like this," Robert said.
US president Donald Trump boasts about his relationship with the Saudi king, who has talked of "cutting off the head of the Iranian snake" and whose oil facilities were attacked with drone-fired missiles – which the US blamed on Iran last year, said Robert.
"Or Israel? Or is this just another decision with incalculable results, taken by a crackpot president in the US?" he added.
Qassem Soleimani was one of the most powerful men in Iran, although the Revolutionary Guards al-Quds forces he commanded is not quite the elite army that Iran likes to pretend. Soleimani, according to his fellow commanders, would take risks at the various al-Quds front lines in Syria and his men admired him for his courage under fire.
"So he regularly expected to die. But Baghdad International Airport is the last place you would expect to see an American drone put him and al-Muhandis to death," Robert exclaimed.
Robert observed that the Americans have long grown used to staging attacks on pro-Iranian militia bases in Iraq and Syria.
"Over recent months, these strikes have become normal, regular – like Israel's frequent raids into Syria and Lebanon. But it was a US military operation which also killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria, a Sunni Muslim who was an enemy of Tehran and whom the Iranians would have been happy to liquidate."
Robert said, "The Americans have been used to this sort of assassination – or "targeted killings" as the Israelis call them – wiping out their enemies when they choose. Osama bin Laden was the first, Baghdadi the second, Suleimani the third. Such killings are regularly undertaken by Israel in Gaza, where Hamas leaders are often assassinated."
With the US election looming over Trump, Soleimani as a target in Baghdad will play positively with the Republicans. Iran has always responded to insults or attacks by waiting and delaying its own retaliation.