Al-Monitor | : Aside from sending US-Iran tensions to all-time highs, the assassination of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike has set the stage for a whole range of developments in the Middle East. To avenge the death of the powerful and popular Soleimani, Iran hopes to realize a long-standing aspiration: ousting the US military from the region.
The drone attack targeting Soleimani outside Baghdad International Airport could have huge consequences in the region. Following the initial shock, Iran’s government quickly outlined and made public its foreign policy agenda for retaliation. Esmail Ghaani was named as Soleimani’s replacement as chief of Iran’s Quds Force, the overseas branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The new commander told reporters following a Jan. 6 prayer service for Soleimani that true punishment will be exacted only if the United States withdraws from the region. Other generals and civilian authorities echoed the same stance, an indication that Tehran is not hesitating to accomplish the mission.
Over the past few years, Iran has sidelined the United States in the Syria crisis by shaping the Astana process and further engaging Turkey and Russia. This successful precedent may serve as Iran’s model to expel the United States from the region. Nonetheless, while favored by Iran’s regional allies, the project faces multiple tough changes.
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