Indications are that the turmoil created in West Asia by the killing of Iran's top ranking general Qassem Soleimani on Friday by the US through a missile attack, may take a more sinister turn. Iran's politial, religious and military leadership had already declared that America would be dealt a fitting blow in response to its assassination of Soleimani.
The first strike from Iran came in the form of missle attacks against two US military camps in Iraq early Wednesday morning. The targets were the US camps in Irbil and Ain-al-Assad in Iraq. Iran claims that they killed 80 US troopers, but America who confirmed the attack, has not disclosed any figures of material or human losses. President Donald Trump tweeted that an estimate of damage was being conducted. Donald Trump has been the target of ridicule as a maverick ruler. He does not have the capability to realise how unrefined and crude an act it was to kill a top military general of a sovereign nation holding diplomatic passport. The extent of popularity and respect commanded by Qassem Soleimani would be clear to any one watching his funeral, where millions of people turned up in the streets to pay their last respects.
Till recently Iran had been going through a period of internal suffering resulting from embargo and related problems. There was even a situation where the people came out in the streets en masse against the government. The Soleimani assassination served to unite the Iranian people who were getting divided. The sensitivity to grasp all this cannot be expected of Donald Trump, who falls short of the courtesies expected of a head of state even in words. At the same time, the assassination of Soleimani has created serious rifts in America's political leadership. Even from within his own majority Republican Party, there are voices of disagreement with Trump's over-adventurous acts. A widely heard blame is that Trump's step has plunged America into a never-ending conflict. While addressing the country following the missile strikes at US military camps, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that the strikes were a slap on the face of America. He also repeated that the only solution for the region's problems was to end the US presence in West Asia. And Iran's foreign minister Javid Zarif, who used sharper and more pointed words, said that what Iran has done was a legal retaliation, but added that Iran was not going to wage a war against America. But he also said that if US attempts any retaliation, Iran would be forced to take more severe steps.
Ever since the Iranian revolution and the Islamic revolutionary regime took power after ousting the dictatorial rule by Shah Pahlavi, US relations with Iran have been consistently unstable. There was only a brief period with slight thawing of relations during the second term of Barack Obama. Iran has always been against American interests in the region. It is a fact that the constant conflicts in West Asia were due to America's wide-ranging political and economic interests. The resultant confrontations led to the death of millions of people. The situation now is such as to cause worry about the region moving to more intense conflicts. True, one can wish for and state the usual truism that the United Nations and the international community should step in and intervene, but the fact is that such remarks will have little material impact. As long as the international political power equations remain based on a unilateralism of one power, conflicts are also destined to stay. The only way to achieve world piece is to fundamentally alter this power equation. The countries in West Asia are those who can bring about such a change in the equations. But unfortunately those nations are vertically and horizontally divided over conflicting mutual interests. They are not even capable of understasnding that the strength of the US is their disunity. As long as the West Asian countries are unable to identify the conspiracy of imperialist politics, and move forward in unison, conflicts and disturbances will continue to haunt the region, and through it the world too.