Mirza Aslam Beg
QASEM Soleimani was the top military leader of Iran, playing active role in the Middle East region, as well as Afghanistan. In fact, he was described as the “single most powerful operative in the Middle East today.” According to American intelligence, Soleimani was planning large scale assaults on American troops and interests in the region. Thus he has to be eliminated. The weapon that was used to assassinate Soleimani was drone Q9 Reaper, in service since 2007, having significant capabilities. It was launched from Centcom forward base at Qatar, controlled by American Cyber Command, 12000xmiles away in Nevada State, killing Soleimani and his Deputy following behind him. In fact, “Mossad targeted Soleimani, Trump pulled the trigger.”
Iran may also have an equally capable drone like Q9 Reaper, because a few years back Iran brought down this drone violating their air space and developed the prototype, through reverse engineering, adding a meaningful capability to the wide range of missiles, rockets and drones Iran has developed, during the last three decades and has deployed them at different launching sites, controlled by three Cyber/A1 Command Centres. Lo and behold, Iran scraps the Nuclear Deal thus raising the threshold of deterrence at very appropriate time. Iran’s high-tech weapon capability coupled with Cyber and A1 technologies has enabled Iran to fight a limited war, as the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah warned that “a harsh retaliation is waiting for the United States,” whereas the former US Vice President called Trump’s operation reckless, “having tossed the stick of dynamite into the tinder box openly killing a senior government official in peace time, that is unprecedented terrorism.”
A better alternative for Iran to avenge Soleimani’s killing would be, to combine cyber-drone missile technology with ground support, presently available in various countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Afghanistan is another country where Iran enjoys goodwill and respect. Iranian operations would be targeting American personalities and troops at already identified 35 targets, including the 5th Fleet forward base in Bahrain and the Centcom forward base in Qatar. For Iran it would be a total war fought mainly at the Cyber War technological level, supported by ground troops having enough experience of fighting conventional war. This strategy would enable Iran to fight a war, limited in time and space. The recent decision of the Iranian government to raise the Red Flag over the central mosque in Qum, indicates that, Rahbar Ali Khamenei has raised the “threshold level of punishment to America for the grave mistake they have committed,” that would engulf the entire Middle Eastern region seriously impacting the neighbouring countries. The war will not be targeting only American troops and interests, but the main target would be Israel – the source of all trouble in the region.
Iran has suffered for the past four decades at the hands of America and Israel and now is the time for Iran, to break the shackle. The technological superiority of America and Israel could be challenged by massive use of missiles, drones, rockets and suicide bombers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza. As the war extends, the jehadis from neighbouring countries would start pouring in to add new dimension to the war. It would be a bitter and bloody war, causing economic disaster to oil and gas producing countries of the region and the rest of the dependents stand to suffer equally particularly China getting oil supplies mainly through the 2xkilometer wide shipping lane of the Strait of Hurmuz, which can be closed not by the Iranians, but by the Americans themselves, because their supply-line from North-West Europe remains secure. Russia and China would not get involved in war. They would urge restraint and caution and stand to gain either way as America suffers another shameful defeat after Afghanistan. Countries like Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia will support Iran. Pakistan would follow a policy of restraint and caution as it did during the Iran-Iraq war of the eighties. But Pakistan would face serious ethnic turmoil, that would shake it to the roots. As a matter of fact, the entire Gulf region would experience major geo-political shifts and changes causing great instability.
There is no possibility of a world war, because the world at large has learned to watch the destruction and decimation of Muslim countries during the last four decades and would do the same now, during the impending Middle East War. The world organizations like UNO and their financial institutions would maintain their discreet neutrality, while the struggling people of Palestine and Kashmir may win their freedom because Israel would be facing existential threat and India would be embroiled with several freedom movements within and serious political turmoil caused by Modi’s policy of Hindutva eating away at the very roots of Secular India.
India is a strategic defence partner of America and under obligation to support USA in their war against Iran. It would be interesting to watch what course India adopts to extricate itself from a very embarrassing situation. Their decision would impinge upon Pakistan’s security. Iranians are quite aware of the threat to their nuclear assets and facilities, which they have protected deep into tunnels dug into the mountains, yet Americans have the capability to cause damage using the F-35 fighter aircrafts with new weapons, as Trump has threatened, which will be more deadly than the GBU 43/N-MOAB- the Massive Ordinance Air Blast. Iranians have no reliable defence against the F35 which may prove very damaging for them. Someone has rightly commented: “Middle East would find itself in a state of enhanced flux, uncertain geopolitical dispensation and marred with distrust among the states. The US had long considered Iran as a ‘counterweight’ to Arabs and Israel. All previous US Presidents wanted to keep Iran as a credible and viable threat for the Arabs, which was the ‘balancing policy’ and that appears to be changing.”
— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former COAS, Pakistan Army.