Death of Gen Qasem Soleimani- Full Scale War Not Likely
(ICRR- Shia Sunni Conflict)
Islam is at war with itself! Entire Middle East is fighting with each other since last many decades, but this decade was especially bloodiest in recent past. Emergence of ISIS thrown Syria-Iraq in to hellfire. On the other hand bloody Shia- Sunni rivalry which unfolded in Yemen perished thousands of lives.
Still, full-scale war unlikely to happen in the area due to vested economic interests of world powers in the region more precisely in the crude oil. Any war on Middle Eastern theater would doom world economy which is already reeling under recession.
War between Iran and The Axis comprising USA- Saudi- Israel was forecasted earlier too, but it didn't occur defying all estimations. The only reason was, all concerned parties are well aware of the fact that war won't derive any solution neither it would establish their military hegemony over the region. So, before going to derive the answer for what did both parties want to achieve, we would have glance at who was Gen Qasem Soleimani?
Who was Gen Qasem Soleimani?
Gen Soleimani was most decorated, hawkish military officer commanding Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps- IRGC, which is cocktail military group within Iranian military consisting of all 3 arms of conventional army along with radical, devout Shia militia called Basij Militia. Gen Soleimani was in charge of Quds Forces working under IRGC specialized in extraterritorial clandenstine operations singularly aimed at flexing Iran's Shia regime's military might by neutralizing anti Iran elements by all possible ways.
Gen Soleimani had great military, intelligence gathering and conventional military expertise which has made him invincible within Iranian armed forces and radical Shia hierarchy of Iranian leadership. At a time he was enemy of Pakistan, Saudi, Israel and Iran. Each of them have very different reasons to hate and hunt Gen Soleimani.
Israel was particularly hunting for him, for his rock-solid military logistical support to anti Israel Hamas and Hejbullah terror groups operating from Palestine and Lebanon. With his replenishment, both groups keep repeatedly targeting Israeli military and civilian targets with missiles. His formidable Quds Forces have made Syria a hotbed of anti Israeli Shia militants. Israel frequently carried out air strikes and missile strikes on Quds Forces units within Syria. But their military capabilities remained unhurt by and large. So their ultimate target was Gen Soleimani.
For Pakistan he was hated for his retributory strikes from Iran- Pakistan border and his hot pursuit against Pakistani forces along lengthy and rough border. Iran harbors scores of anti Pakistan Shia terror groups on Iranian soil which are trained and fed by Quds Forces Units. On the day of gruesome Pulawama attack on Indian Forces in Kashmir, Pakistan based anti Iran groups slaughtered 27 IRGC troops near Iran- Pak border. At that time Gen Soleimani publicaly warned Pakistan of revenge. Within just one month, Iran based so called Baloch armed group ambushed buses plying on coastal Makran Highway of Balochistan, segregated Pakistani Navy sailors and shot dead 14 of them from point blank. The attack was seen as retribution for attack on IRGC troops which was openly vowed by Gen Soleimani.
For Saudi Arabia, there were dozen plus reasons to hate Gen Qasem. Out of which an audacious drone attack on September 14, 2019 on Aramco's Abqaiq Oil refinery and another on September 28 on Saudi forces in Najran Province. Aramco Abqiaq attack crippled Saudi's oil production and export capacity and badly exposed faultlines of US security assurance to Iran, with miserable failure of American air defense mechanism at place; which didn't work at all.
In Najran province Quds Forces supported Yemeni rebels in attack which forced a brigade size Saudi force led by former Pakistani COAS Gen Raheel Sharif to surrender. The stunning surrender of 10,000 Saudi coalition troops was filmed on tape and Yemeni rebel spokesman declared it in press conference with video tapes. It has shocked Saudi leadership and angered them beyond imagination. Obviously Gen Solemimani was on radar being head of Iran's extraterrestrial Quds Forces and Basij Militia commander. Both attacks back to back has forced Saudi to rethink its diplomatic and military capabilities vis-a-vis ability if its military allies. It has also compelled Saudi to come to the conclusion that none would help it to take on mighty Iranian Military and it has to explore its options on its own.
US hates Soleimani for his bold acts against American interests in Middle East. His actions against Saudi and Israel, especially Aramco- Abqaiq attack on oil refinery Gen Soleimani made Americans to rethink about their much advertised air defense systems, which were promoted as infallible. Also Basij Militia and Quds Forces units embedded within Syrian Army, Hamas and Hejbullah were giving America sleepless nights as Israel was under constant pressure from Soleimani's military proxies in the region.
Why there won't be a War?
Iran and US led Axis have signed unwritten agreement not to fight war on own soil, so there won't be a war anytime soon. Rather than fighting full scale war, both blocks would keep fighting lengthy and bloody proxy war on Yemen and Syria- Iraq theater. To add one more theater of Balochistan would be smart option left for The Axis. We have discussed the prospects of opening one more anti Iran proxy war front in September article (Aramco Attack pushes Balochistan- Lebanon- Yemen Delta to War! )
Any war fought on Iranian soil would put immense, unbearable pressure on Persian Gulf where Straight of Hormuz is located. Straight of Hormuz is jugular of Asian Oil supply. In case of any war, Iranians would take enough care to choke Hormuz bringing Asian crude supply to standstill. It would bring Asian economies to the knees. With Asian economies including two 3 giants Japan, China and India in difficulty, world would ultimately witness economic bloodbath. Hence, even after innumerable provocations from nuclear powered Iran (tough its nuclear weapons capabilities are not proven), The Axis won't dare to wage war on Iranian soil. So best option left for them is to intensify proxy war on Syria- Iraq theater and to open Balochistan war theater to bleed Iran from Pakistan side. Yemen has already proved too much costly for Saudi as UAE left the Houthi war midway and Islamic Military Alliance has suffered unexpected losses in it, without any military success in sight.
Balochistan front is most effective option for The Axis?
Given the limited options to bleed Iran ( As far as dependency of world economy on Straight of Hormuz is concerned); only available best option (not best option) for The Axis is Balochistan! The Kalat region with own coastline and rough terrain dotting Taliban sanctuaries; Saudi can exploit their Taliban connections to convert anti Afghanistan terror infrastructure along Pakistan- Iran border to anti Iran front. It would offer Americans much needed peace in Afghanistan and in return US can put its hands on billions of dollars of oil and gas reserves of Balochistan along with gold mines and costly rare metals hitherto unexplored.
Conclusion:- Thus one thing becomes already clear; even after extreme provocation of Aramco attack, US- Saudi didn't give knee-jerk military reaction to Iran. They waited for long, struck and took out Gen Qasem Soleimani. Now ball is in Iran's court. It would be interesting to see, whether Iran retaliates The Axis in Iraq- Syria or opens front somewhere else. If it strikes The Axis in Hormuz or Yemen, then again the region would experience new phase of hostilities. If The Axis denies Iran take retaliatory action for the death of their most performing military asset like Gen Soleimani; then they would definitely try to explore Balochistan option which has more lucrative options than any other proxy war theater.
Let's imbibe one thing; both would fight lengthy, bloody, costly war either in Syria- Iraq or Balochistan not on their own soil! That's an age old game to destroy voiceless nations and people to achieve own diplomatic and military objectives, same would repeat here at the cost of thousands of lives- mostly Muslims, unfortunately though!
--- Vinay Joshi