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Faultlines deepen in Gulf: What’s Trump gameplan?

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The January 3 killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Al Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), in a US drone attack at Baghdad airport have had multiple consequences, in Iran and abroad. Iran expectedly retaliated five days later by firing a barrage of missiles at two Iraqi military bases, after alerting the Iraqis. Iran claimed killing 80 “American terrorists”, in what was more symbolic revenge, as no loss of Iraqi or American lives was reported. For now, the point of further escalation into open hostilities has passed, although the faultlines persist, if anything with deepened hostility.

In order to exacerbate domestic Iranian civil unrest, which was manifest preceding the Soleimani killing, US President Donald Trump ramped up sanctions, while offering talks on January 8. Thousands of Iranian mourners, who had poured into streets wanting revenge, turned against their own government after the Iranian military accepted mistakenly shooting down a Ukrainian airliner, killing many Iranians with dual Canadian-Iranian nationality. Iran in turn kickstarted its stalled nuclear enrichment programme by resuming research on advanced centrifuges, pulling old equipment out of the boxes and threatening to enrich uranium beyond limits imposed by its 2015 nuclear deal with P-5 Germany. On January 12, the Guardian Council, a 12-member group of which half are the Supreme Leader’s nominees, debarred dozens of current members as also reformist and liberal candidates from running in the forthcoming parliamentary election. Among them are prominent figures like Ali Motahari, son of a close associate of Ayatollah........

© Deccan Chronicle