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Iran's retaliation is not over

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12.01.2020

On January 3, US President Donald Trump announced triumphantly the killing of Iran's General Qassem Soleimani. Having assassinated the equivalent of a member of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Trump claimed he did not want war. His words rang hollow in Tehran where this brazen attack was seen as an act of exactly that.

As many have noted so far, the assassination was carried out to help Trump's struggling re-election campaign. This strategy could have worked if Iran was a static player on the chessboard.

But it is not and depending on how it chooses to retaliate and the course of action it adopts vis-a-vis the US in the coming months and years, it could determine Trump's political fate. This episode along with other impulsive actions by the president will negatively affect the United States's regional position and its global role more broadly.

Only hours after the assassination, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated that "a harsh revenge awaits the criminal killers". And after a meeting headed for the first time by him, Iran's supreme national security council issued a statement saying "the US regime will be responsible for all the consequences". If Trump expected Tehran to swallow the pain, he obviously miscalculated.

Soleimani was by far the most popular official figure in Iran; according to a 2019 poll, 82 percent of Iranians viewed him favourably. His assassination brought the nation together and made the need for revenge that more urgent. Beyond taking vengeance, a gradual shift in Iran's strategic conduct vis-a-vis the US and its client states in the region is expected - one that will be less tolerant of the US........

© Al Jazeera