January 3, 2020

Fallout from the U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq

Background: Following a recent air strike in Syria which targeted in response to deadly Hezbollah attacks;
The Pentagon said it was responding after the group fired more than 30 rockets at a US base in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday, killing an American civilian contractor.
In response, Iranian backed protesters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad in Iraq. President Trump then vowed that this would not be another Benghazi.

The next event in the sequence was that the United States conducted an airstrike in Iraq, killing an Iranian general forbidden from leaving Iraq, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. The U.S. embassy issued a warning to Americans in the region. President Trump tweeted the following moments ago:

Media fallout:  The media responded with craziness once again.  They are willing to overlook that the president did not inform Russia prior to the airstrikes as any good Putin puppet should.  Putin is clearly not happy about it by the way.  

The left who were freaking out over president Trump removing troops from Syria and Afghanistan are now, predictably calling him a rogue, war monger. I even saw a never-Trumper post implying that the president wants a war to ensure his re-election.

Many articles are saying that the president has fallen into Iran's trap and is being strategically outmaneuvered by the regime.

Geopolitical fallout:  This one is going to be harder to predict.  Iran is clearly suffering from the ratcheted up sanctions imposed by president Trump. Those seem to be the most logical next step for the president but with players like Russia and China (America's true geo-political foes) not on board 
with punishing Iran because it only helps the USA, there may not be much opportunity to increase sanctions more effectively.  The long game for president Trump would be to choke Iran economically into nuclear compliance. 

Don't expect Iran to sit complacently over the economic squeeze.  The problem for them is that they do not have much leverage themselves.  They can work through terrorist organizations they support to sting the USA.  Successful attacks could alter public support for the president.  Failure would only gird support for president Trump.  But if successful, president Trump would have few choices left other than to continue with more airstrikes. 

Many are claiming there will be a rapid escalation but I see this as a more drawn out slow burn just because any escalations take time to plot - Iran doesn't have many cards to play and the USA does not need to escalate anything at this point.

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