[What follows is a brief excerpt from an article by Martin Jay published today in Middle East Online about the American assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani yesterday in Baghdad:]
In the morning of 3rd of January millions of people in the West woke up to the news that an Iranian general named Qasem Soleimani had been assassinated by an American strike in Baghdad. But very few of them, if any, will understand just how colossal a move the decision by Trump is and what the payback will be.
By far, this strike is way bigger than anything Trump has done so far in the region (...)
In fact, one could argue that even America’s downing of an Iranian airliner in July 1988 in the straits of Hormuz – a military blunder by a commander of an aircraft carrier who believed that an Iranian airliner was a fighter jet descending – also cannot even compare. Given that the decision to shoot down the civilian airliner was a genuine military misjudgement it is worth noting what Iran’s response was: cold, calculated revenge against an American airliner, Pan Am flight 103 just six months later three days before Christmas, packed full of Americans, including military.
Iran’s revenge will be equally calculated, but much more than merely Lockerbie. It’s hard not to underestimate how powerful and how respected Soleimani was to the Iranians – and how feared by his enemies. (...)
Trump’s decision to give the assassination the green light – in preference for a military strike against pro-Iranian Iraqi units which were apparently planning attacks against US forces there – has taken the threat of a war to a higher level and should be seen more rationally as yet another chapter in the war with Iran, since 1979. But an important one. The war has now shifted from proxy to direct which indicate that despite all the reports to the contrary, Trump is indeed ready for a real hands-on war in the region with Iran.
[RB: It is interesting and instructive that the author of this article -- a very experienced commentator on the middle-eastern scene -- regards the destruction of Pan Am 103 as unquestionably an act of revenge by Iran for the downing of Iran Air 655 by the USS Vincennes. This was also the view of the US Central Intelligence Agency, as noted in this paragraph from a report posted on 3 January 2020 on the website of The Guardian:]
US intelligence certainly believes Hezbollah was behind the bombing of an Israeli-Argentinian cultural centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, and the bombing of a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, in 2012. The CIA was also convinced that Iran was involved in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, in reprisal for the accidental downing of an Iranian airliner, Iran Air 655, five months earlier.