By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog
Four days after the terrorist attack which killed Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis, the Islamic Republic retaliated with missile attacks on at least two military bases in Iraq where US troops were present. The retaliation was to be expected as popular demands and expectations were at an all-time high during the three day long funeral procession.
So on Wednesday night, on January 8th, at exactly the same time when the US conducted its terrorist attack four days earlier, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps launched their missiles on the largest and most significant US military base in Iraq, Ain al-Assad where the US had gathered a large number of its troops after evacuating many bases in Shia dominated areas around Baghdad. Ain al-Assad is located in the western Al-Anbar province, and was the same base from which the drones that killed Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis were launched. There was also a second US base in Erbil that came under attack that night.
According to reliable sources, the Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was informed by Iran about the imminent attack and relayed the information to the US forces who were prepared in advance. The IRGC attack was conducted with two types of missiles – the Fateh 313 and the Qiam types. These Precision ballistic missiles targeted specific areas of the airbase and were deliberately aimed at avoiding casualties. The idea was to only send a message to Washington and its vassals: “Don’t test us because we can and will hurt you badly”. Despite reports by Iranian state media about 80 casualties, a number reported to appease the domestic opinion, it is more likely that there were very few or rather zero casualties for the US occupation forces. However, it should be noted that the US refused to allow any Iraqis to investigate the site for the attacks, and no pictures whatsoever were released until at least 14 hours after the attack. Indicating that Washington was hiding something.
So why did Iran intentionally avoid killing US troops? The obvious reason for this- de escalation. But the ingenious part of the Iranian plan was to de-escalate the crisis without actually de-escalating it in public. Of course, the leadership in Tehran aren’t so eager for a war which will result in millions of lives lost, Iranians are still traumatized by the 8 year brutal Iran-Iraq war which caused the deaths of over a million Iranians.
The message was aimed to achieve several goals, the first I mentioned above.
The second goal can be identified in the decision to attack the base in Erbil, to show the US that its forces will not be safe in Erbil, and that they should not dare to think that they can remain in their vassal state of Kurdistan.
The third probable goal was to send Israel and the Gulf states a clear message. Throughout the night it was reported by several sources and outlets that Hezbollah had threatened to launch attacks on Israel if the US were to respond to Iran’s retaliations, while the Houthis in Yemen had threatened to launch their missiles on the Gulf states that are harbouring US troops. Meanwhile the Hashd Al-Shaabi had also threatened to turn the US embassy into ashes should they dare to attack Iran. This was a show of force by the Resistance Axis – to show Washington’s allies that the entire region will be engulfed in fire if Iran is attacked directly. It was also reported that night that the IRGC had warned Qatar and the UAE that any country that allowed its territory to be used as a springboard for a US attack would be considered a legitimate target for Iran’s retaliation.
But like I mentioned in my latest article, the true revenge for Iran would not be to strike back militarily, but to kick the US out of the region. This was confirmed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei when he held a speech on Wednesday morning:
“The talk of revenge and such debates are a different issue. For now, a slap was delivered on their face last night,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in remarks broadcasted live on national television.
“What is important about confrontation is that the military action as such is not sufficient. What is important is that the seditious American presence in the region must end,” he said to chants of “Death to America” by an audience in Tehran.
The Leader hailed the Iraqi parliament’s decision ordering US troops to leave the country as well as the Iranian parliament’s blacklisting of American forces as terrorists.
“This measure by the Majlis was a very good blow. The Iraqi parliament’s act for the expulsion of America from Iraq was also very good. May God help them continue this path.”
“The Americans want Iraq to be like the former idolatrous regime in Iran or Saudi Arabia today – a region full of oil to be under their control so they can do whatever they want – a milking cow in the words of that individual,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in reference to US President Donald Trump.
“But the faithful elements and the Iraqi youth and their Marja’iya (religious authorities) stood up to these scenarios and Haj Qassem assisted this vast front in the capacity of an active adviser and an honorable supporter,” the Leader added.
The Islamic Republic’s allies lauded the IRGC’s attack with statements of support from Syria, Hezbollah, Hashd Al-Shaabi and Houthis. The Islamic Republic’s moral victory and bravery during this crisis has encouraged the region to muster enough courage to dare to speak of the Terrorist Empire’s inevitable expulsion from West Asia.
The strike has also shown the world and especially Washington’s vassals in the region that the billions of dollars spent on purchasing “the best military equipment” in the world are useless as a deterrence against the Islamic Republic. This realization will push them to seek rapprochement with Tehran, and could even entice countries to seek to purchase Iran’s missiles.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon, US president Donald Trump held his speech in response to the attack. Speaking from the White House, Trump backed away from threatening further strikes against Iran, describing Tehran’s stand-down as “a good thing for all parties concerned.”
“Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast…The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean that we have to use it.”
Trump did, however, vow to impose new economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, in addition to the thousand or so already imposed since the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal) in 2018. “These powerful sanctions will remain,” he said, “until Iran changes its behavior.”
After boasting about America’s “big missiles,” Trump spent the remainder of his speech suggesting that under a new deal, Iran could become a “great country,” and could cooperate with the US on areas of mutual benefit.
“ISIS [Islamic State, IS, ISIL] is the natural enemy of Iran,” he said. “The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran. And we should work together on this and many other shared priorities.”
(Trump during the moment of the IRGC missile attack)
I’m certain that any intelligent person understood that Trump got the message quite clearly. He spent major parts of his speech talking about the JCPOA and other matters, and his how “great” the US economy is – neither of those had anything to do with the crisis. Many people surely noticed how his tone changed – from previously threatening to destroy Iran’s cultural sites if Iran responded, to suggest that Washington was hoping for negotiations, once more proving many people’s points of Trump’s total incompetence when it comes to diplomacy.
Now that the Iraqi parliament have voted for the expulsion of US forces, which can be seen as the first retaliation for Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis’ killings (the second one being the IRGC’s attack), the US occupation of Syria is also in danger. Washington and its pathetic vassals, unless they wish to send their troops home in coffins, will have to respect Iraq’s decision or face the wrath of the Iraqi resistance forces.
The time when Washington can just hit other countries and threaten them to stand down is over. The Empire has been exposed and will no longer be able to freely terrorize the region without suffering consequences. One way or another the US will be removed from West Asia, beginning with Iraq.