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Soleimani's death will give Iran renewed legitimacy

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In the early hours of January 3, a US air raid killed General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs).

The attack may prove to be US President Donald Trump's most reckless foreign policy decision in the Middle East. It was a grave violation of Iraq's national sovereignty and it is likely to result in further instability in the country and beyond.

It came on the tail of mass protests in both Iran and Iraq which challenged the Islamic Republic both domestically and regionally. Trump's decision to approve the assassination of Soleimani, however, has given a lifeline to the Iranian leadership and its allies in Iraq by driving nationalist sentiments and turning attention away from the failings of the governments in Baghdad and Tehran.

After Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the "Iran deal", it was clear that the Islamic Republic would retaliate through its Iraqi proxies, undermining US influence in the Middle East.

As the US reimposed sanctions and introduced new ones, Iran launched a low-intensity war against the US and its regional allies. It is suspected of being behind multiple attacks on tankers in the Gulf as well as a drone attack on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic Republic felt increasingly under pressure at home, as the economic situation deteriorated and it was forced to increase fuel prices by almost 200 percent, which sparked mass demonstrations.

On December 27, pro-Iranian Iraqi........

© Al Jazeera