For decades now, under Israeli pressure Washington has been trying to play a “power game” with Tehran to bleed it dry, and prevent it from gaining the upper hand in its regional competition with Tel Aviv. Moreover, in this patently self-defeating confrontation, the United States is facing a mounting number of political defeats every day, and a loss of prestige before the world community.
Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani announced a successful victory in the “economic battle” at the end of the last US presidential elections in December, stressing that the Trump administration, which had previously confidently talked about the collapse of the Iranian economy, was leaving the corridors of power with nothing. He stated that there were many difficulties during the “war between economies”, but that the Iranian nation had successfully overcome them and won, and that the failure of the United States in the “economic war” was one of the reasons why Donald Trump lost the elections.
Iran has already proven to the world that it is a self-sufficient country. The uranium enrichment level of 63% recently announced by Tehran, despite numerous acts of sabotage on the part of Tel Aviv and Washington, has clearly thrown both Israel and the United States off balance, since this means that the country now has a virtually complete nuclear cycle. And since it is extremely difficult to stop Iran from going down this path solely through sanctions and provocations on the part of its intelligence services, Washington was forced to realize that it was necessary to negotiate a return to the nuclear agreement with Tehran.
The United States is experiencing nothing but defeats in its confrontation with Iran in the Middle East. The US “game” in Yemen, where Washington’s regional ally, Saudi Arabia, could not endure the onslaught of the Tehran-backed Houthis, is ending in an unvarnished loss. The US is failing in Jordan as well. Not to mention Syria, where the United States, with active support from the West and a number of Arab states, was never able to achieve dominance and resolve the situation in its favor because Iran and Russia started to coordinate their actions in this country.
In January 2020, the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution that called for the withdrawal of foreign military forces and, above all else, US forces from the republic’s territory, and on April 7 this year Baghdad announced that it would form a technical committee to define the terms and conditions governing the withdrawal of international forces. And for this reason the almost $10 billion that was previously spent on building and fitting out the three military bases in this country that Washington had hoped to use to forever rule not only the Persian Gulf, but also the entire Middle East, can be added to the list of genuine losses for the US.
Among the 1.5 billion Muslims of the world, there are about 130 million Shiites. Most of them inhabit Iran (more than 75 million), Iraq (more than 20 million), and Azerbaijan (about 10 million), where Shiites dominate both numerically, culturally, and politically. There are sizeable Shiite minorities in a number of Arab countries, such as Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. Shiites inhabit the central, mountainous area of Afghanistan (the Hazaras and others number about 4 million) and some parts of Pakistan. There are Shiite communities in India, even though there are many more Sunnis there. In the southern part of India, so-called “black Shiites” live among the Hinduists.
In recent decades in different countries (Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, etc.) Shiites have become more actively involved in the struggle for power, as well as in internal conflicts, turning to Tehran in particular for help. The Shiites, perceiving Iran as their own kind of Mecca, are monitoring the confrontation between Washington, Tel Aviv, and Tehran very closely, with each Iranian victory replenishing the ranks of US opponents and, accordingly, strengthening the position of those in the camp that supports Iran. The Shiite community of Muslim peoples is not a union of nations (ethnicities), but a spiritual and political community formed from confessional Shiite groups within the Islamic world. And it is emerging as an increasingly significant factor in cultural and political life.
In the recent confrontation between the United States, Israel, and Iran, the sides involved regularly put out feelers to see how “tough” their opponents are, actively using the capabilities possessed by their intelligence services. Moreover, these services have been used most vigorously in recent years by Tel Aviv to set up multiple covert operations, up to and including economic sabotage and physically killing prominent Iranian figures. The result of this is that the world has witnessed a number of major operations, specifically including inciting separatist sentiments in Iran – both in provinces where Kurds live packed tightly together and in Sistan and Balochistan Province. Fearing the emergence of nuclear weapons in Iran, which, according to Tel Aviv, could pose an objective threat to the very existence of the Jewish state, Israeli operations in this area have long become a kind of fixation. After the Stuxnet computer virus caused more than one thousand centrifuges to malfunction at Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010, cyber warfare between Iran and Israel has become increasingly earnest. “High-profile” special operations against Iranian nuclear scientists were thrown into this mix back in 2007, then followed a series of murders committed against Iranian physicists in 2010 and 2012. On November 27, 2020, a leading Iranian nuclear physicist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed in a Tehran suburb.
In January 2020, Israeli and US intelligence agencies assassinated General Qasem Soleimani, nicknamed “The Shadow” because he directed all covert operations outside the country, and since he was in charge of the Quds Force, the most secretive elite unit in the Iranian army.
Tehran was forced to accept the rules of the game imposed on it by the United States and Israel, through whose efforts terrorism, and the assassination of political and important public figures, are increasingly becoming the norm. During the night of January 8, 2020, Iran launched a missile attack on the American base Ayn al Asad in western Iraq, sending a warning that this was just a strong “slap in the face” of the United States for shedding the blood of Qasem Soleimani, Iranian national hero and the commander of IRGC Quds Force – and that the real vendetta lies in store.
On December 3, Fahmi Hinawi, one of the heads of the Mossad who was involved in killing Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed in his car near Tel Aviv. The scenario for his assassination followed the same pattern that the Israelis had used: Hinawi’s car had stopped at a red traffic light and was then riddled with bullets from automatic weapons.
In late January, a “strange” plane crash in Afghanistan killed a high-ranking American CIA officer, Michael D’Andrea, who was in charge of operations in the Middle East and was involved in setting up the assassination of the Qasem Soleimani, head of the IRGC Quds special forces.
And on June 26 at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, US Air Force officer and Red Horse Squadron commander James Willis was found dead. The Air Force Times reported that the death of the 55-year-old US Air Force lieutenant colonel was not related to any hostilities. Previously, Iranian intelligence services had affirmed that Willis was involved in murdering the IRGC Quds special forces commander Qasem Soleimani on the night of January 3.
Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.