ארון קאסם סולימאני הלוויה איראן
Iranians mourn over the coffin of Qassem Soleimani at his funeral in Ahvaz on Sunday
Photo: Reuters
Iranians mourn over the coffin of Qassem Soleimani at his funeral in Ahvaz on Sunday

Trump surprised everyone, especially Soleimani

Analysis: After decades of wariness and passivity over confronting Iran, the U.S. has suddenly revolutionized its Mideast policy, and the general consensus in Israel is that it will not pay the price for this about-face

Alex Fishman |
Published: 01.05.20 , 23:42
A great strategic miracle has happened here. Suddenly Israel is no longer alone.
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  • For years, Israel has tried unsuccessfully to harness the United States for a military confrontation with Iran. And last Friday we emerged from these 40 years in the wilderness.
    ארון קאסם סולימאני הלוויה איראןארון קאסם סולימאני הלוויה איראן
    Iranians mourn over the coffin of Qassem Soleimani at his funeral in Ahvaz on Sunday
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The United States, which has been wary of conducting a direct attack on Iranian targets since the early 1980s, carried out - and assumed responsibility for - the assassination of Qassem Soleimani - the man who most symbolized the spread of the Iranian revolution across the globe.
    No wonder the political and defense echelons in Israel are celebrating.
    This revolution in U.S. policy in the Middle East did not involve any Israeli military or diplomatic input that could exact a heavy price. President Trump chose to put his hand in the fire.
    As the regime leaders met in Tehran to plan its confrontation with the U.S., Defense Minister Naftali Bennett also convened senior defense officials for consultations at the ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. But unlike the Iranians, the Israelis soon went home for the weekend.
    מחאה ב איראן נקמה אחרי חיסול קאסם סולימנימחאה ב איראן נקמה אחרי חיסול קאסם סולימני
    An Iranian woman holds a banner during a protest against the killing of Qassem Soleimani
    (Photo: AFP)
    Israel believes that the Iranians are aware that Jerusalem had no involvement in the assassination in Iraq, and it is doubtful that Islamic Republic has any interest in opening another front against Israel.
    Nonetheless, there is a certain level of raised preparedness among intelligence and air defense operatives in Israel.
    There is after all the likelihood that pro-Iranian militias in Syria, or possibly Lebanon, will fire at Israel - even without a directive from Tehran, which has happened in the past.
    It would be an act of mourning, anger and frustration.
    Islamic Jihad in Gaza could also carry out symbolic rocket fire as an act of solidarity with Iran.
    However, Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations, while mourning the death of Soleimani, have sent a clear message: We are not going to open a new front because of this elimination.
    הלוויההלוויה
    Mourners at the funeral for Qassem Soleimani in Ahvaz, Iran
    (Photo: AFP)
    Trump surprised everyone. After all, he had been acting like he was in the process of walking away from the Middle East.
    Just a week ago, he declared that he had no interest in all-out war with Iran.
    After a U.S. drone was downed over the Strait of Hormuz, he halted at the last minute a major air strike in response.
    Until the killing of an American citizen in Iraq two weeks ago, Trump did not respond to provocations by the Iranians or their counterparts against American assets.
    But the images of the pogrom at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad were, for him, one bridge too far.
    דונלד טראמפ בעצרת בחירות עם תומכיו לאחר חיסולו של קאסם סולימאני בעירקדונלד טראמפ בעצרת בחירות עם תומכיו לאחר חיסולו של קאסם סולימאני בעירק
    Donald Trump speaks after the killing of Qassem Soleimani
    (Photo: AFP)
    And so when the CIA chief put on his desk an intelligence report stating that there was an operational opportunity to eliminate Soleimani, this time he gave the green light.
    This time, Trump decided to change the weak image projected by the U.S. not only when it comes to Iran, but across the entire region.
    Trump surprised everyone, especially Qassem Soleimani.
    For years, Soleimani has been acting like a wanted man, but in recent months, in the face of American passivity, he has allowed himself to raise his public profile.
    Given his status in the Iranian regime, both he and his patrons in Tehran did not think anyone would dare to harm him and thus declare war on Iran.
    His killing has far-reaching significance for the region way that of Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
    The assumption is that the Iranians do not want an overall confrontation with the U.S., as the Americans have a significant military advantage.
    And this is why the U.S. government is preparing for attacks on American facilities and embassies around the world.
    חסן רוחאניחסן רוחאני
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pays a condolence call to Qassem Soleimani's family in his hometown of Kerman
    (Photo: AFP)
    The level of preparedness has also been raised at American military installations in the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Washington is also taking into the possibility that American personalities or civilians will be abducted or murdered.
    Of course, there is another possibility: alongside or even after any revenge operation, the Iranians will seek a way to compromise with the West.
    The supreme goal of Iran's supreme leadership is survival of the regime - and war does not serve this purpose.

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