Pressuring Iran by burning its consulate: Will Tehran retreat?

Pressuring Iran by burning its consulate: Will Tehran retreat?

It is something of an open secret that despite the US attempting to dominate Iraq with an all out invasion, it has been Iran and its allies who have been able to benefit from the aftermath of Washington’s attack.

The Americans are naturally less than happy with this outcome, and have done their best ever since to curtail Iranian influence in the country.

Despite the fact that Iran is facing the harshest sanctions regime in history (as President Trump is fond of claiming), the Islamic Republic is currently in the strongest position it has been in for 14 centuries (when Arab Muslims first conquered Iran). Furthermore, without invading or attacking anyone, they have managed to extend their political reach all the way to the Mediterranean sea.

All that Iran has needed to do is exploit the US’ mistakes for their own benefit.

It has not been easy for Iran to win the hearts of millions of people in the region, but they have.

In military terms, the sanctions imposed on Iran, the weapons the Americans sold to Tehran’s rivals and the constant threat imposed by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have forced the country into a strong position by pushing it to develop powerful defensive weapons.

The Iranians now have access to defense systems they need to protect themselves and make any enemy think twice before attacking. For decades Iran has been preparing for an American attack or invasion, which is why so much of their resources and efforts have gone into military developments.

Iran learned a lot of lessons from the war with Iraq, and has since pursued a political doctrine based on two primary defensive principles:

1 – Producing the type of defenses the country needs domestically, even if it requires starting from scratch.

2 – Altering the country’s Virtual borders by preventing it’s enemies from getting a foothold in neighboring countries, especially Arab ones.

The Iranians support their allies abroad as much as possible, and where they have no allies, they support forces who at least do not consider them an enemy.

Over the last forty years, the US has come to realize that they will not be able to directly invade Iran due to their advanced defense measures and expanded virtual borders, and have realized they will need to approach them in a broader arena.

In order to accomplish this, over the past decade, the Americans have tried to force Iran to give up its ballistic missiles and defense systems while simultaneously trying to curtail its influence in the region.

This is the same game the US played with countries like Libya shortly before destroying them.

The Iranians know that if they give up their influence in the region and their defensive weapons it will open the doors for the US to launch a war against them. As a result, Tehran has remained resolute regarding its defensive measures.

About a year ago, a political debate between Iranian allies and US allies took place in Iraq, a confrontation which resulted in those aligned with Iran winning a majority of seats in the Iraqi parliament. After a couple months of negotiations, a prime minister was chosen who, while not being a direct ally of Iran, was at least friendly toward it.

The new Prime Minister, Mr. Adel Abd Al-Mahdi, has tried to keep his distance from Iran and the US in order to prevent Iraq from getting stuck in the middle of the heated conflict between the geopolitical rivals.

The Iranians were satisfied with Al-Mahdi’s neutral position, but the Americans cannot abide a country they desire to fully dominate taking any position but one of outright hostility toward Tehran.

The poor state of relations between Iraq and the US has been evident in several recent events including President Trump visiting the country without even informing the government, the long delays in scheduling a meeting between Trump and Al-Mahdi and Mike Pence’s recent unannounced visit.

In just about every country where election results go counter to the US’ wishes, the Americans simply use their influence to create a chaos and force a political reshuffle. They have employed this strategy in numerous countries, and are now planning to bring down the Iraqi government by fomenting large-scale instability.

Aside from bringing down the Iraqi government and parliament, the US also needs to curtail Iranian influence in Iraq, as well as the power of high ranking clerics like Ayatollah Sistani in order to assure that the next round of elections have the desired results.

By weakening Iranian influence in Iraq, the US hopes to cut-off the ground connection between Iran and its allies in Syria and Lebanon, simultaneously creating a zone of protection for Israel to take more aggressive actions.

It is obvious that those who attacked the Iranian consulates in Karbala and Najaf were pushed by the Americans and their allies to take such radical action.

Unlike the American embassy in Iraq which is centered in a very well protected area in Baghdad known as the green zone, the Iranians believe that their embassies and consulates should be located in areas where they can be easily accessed by the Iraqi people. In other words, attacking Iranian diplomatic chanceries in Iraq is not a difficult task.

Mr. Seyed Abbas Mousavi, the speaker of the Iranian foreign ministry, told me that all the Iranian diplomats and their families had been moved to a safe place before the attacks, and that all of the documents in the consulate had been moved out. The Iranians were clearly prepared.

While the Americans and their allies think that such attacks will scare the Iranians and force them to move their diplomatic buildings, severing they connection with the Iraqi people, the Iranians have shown that they will not be deterred, and that they are experienced in using the US’ aggressive actions for their own benefit.

When the Iranian consulate in Karbala was burned by supporters of the self-claimed Baathist ‘ayatollah’ Sorkhi (who is close to the Americans and Saudis), the leaders of tribes in Karbala visited the Iranian consulate and assigned their sons as protectors of the consulate, assuring that no one would dare to attack it again.

When American allies found out that they failed in Karbala, they moved their provocateurs to Najaf, a holy city for the Shiites and the base of several high ranking Shia clerics.

The US has attempted to create the impression that the Shiites in Karbala and Najaf (the denomination’s two major strongholds) are opposed to Iran.

The Iranians will likely retaliate in their own way.

We are likely to see the leaders of Iraqi tribes visit the Iranian consulate to condemn the attack… it is also likely that high-ranking clerics will step in.

Despite the US’ efforts to create the illusion of popular opposition to Tehran in Iraq, Iran has spent the last four decades proving that he who laughs last, laughs best.

Emad Abshenass
Journalist, writer and Political Science professor (Iran)

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May 2024