The embarrassment and entanglement that has marked the Iran-US imbroglio has continued to evolve and has now become a source for questions among many strategic analysts all over the world.
It started a few weeks ago with the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Al Quds Revolutionary Guards, Iraqi Militia Commander Mahdi al-Muhandis, and several other functionaries through US organised unauthorised airstrikes near Baghdad Airport.
The severity of the situation was highlighted through nearly 50 Iranian mourners being stampeded to death during Soleimani’s funeral. It denoted his popularity among the Iranians. During this period of expression of sorrow, Iran promised to retaliate against the US for this “criminal” act.
As indicated by Iran, the Soleimani killing was followed by Iran attacking two US bases in Iraq with medium range missiles. It was a retaliatory measure. The whole world has been watching the situation with concern.
In the meantime, the Iraqi parliament has passed a resolution that has called on the Iraqi government not only to end all foreign troop presence but that any use of drones by such troops need to have prior permission of the Iraqi government. However, the US State Department has flatly dismissed this proposal after it was put forward by Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi. Growth in complexity has been brought to the forefront through the latest unfortunate downing of a Ukrainian passenger aircraft near the Tehran Airport by Iranian missiles. The passengers apparently included 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians, and 11 Ukrainians, including the crew members. It also included 10 Swedish nationals, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.
Initial claims from Iran about the crash contradicted those made by Ukraine and Canada. Iranian officials had claimed that the Boeing 737-800 had crashed due to mechanical issues.
It was obviously this growing dynamic of disbelief that eventually led to the Iranian military authorities to state that the Ukranian jet had been “unintentionally” shot down by the Iranian military because the plane had flown near a “sensitive military centre” of the Revolutionary Guards.This has now led to a reversal of domestic support for the Iranian authorities on the streets of Tehran. To an extent, it has been replaced with strong protests.
President Trump has already indicated that the US does not need to urgently import large quantity of oil from the Middle East. Apparently, the US now produces through different methods, large quantities of oil and also possesses sufficient quantity in storage. He has also announced through an executive order that fresh additional primary and secondary sanctions are being imposed on Iran.
These measures have been introduced in order to generate more pressure on the Iranian government (pertaining not only to nuclear proliferation but also to the nuclear deal and higher levels of uranium enrichment) and helping those protesting within Iran about their socio-economic difficulties. In any case, the world will remain worried about how the scenario continues to develop over the next few weeks. The last thing that we need is greater instability that might facilitate terrorism and fundamentalism within the region.
This evolving drama is also indirectly affecting developing countries such as Bangladesh that are involved in sending expatriate workers to the region. It is having an osmotic effect that will affect their socio-economic development and will also generate anger and frustration.
Muhammad Zamir, a former ambassador, is an analyst in foreign affairs, right to information and good governance. DHAKA TRIBUNE