There are demonstrations all over Iran for a big goodbye to Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
But the bulk of the demonstrators are there, not because they wish to pay tribute to the fallen martyr, but because they have to be. They have been commanded to be present, and, in addition to their fees, they are getting food and transportation to the various mob sites.
So it’s a very big rent-a-mob. But don’t for a minute fall for the propaganda. Of the 80 million inhabitants of Iran, probably 70 million are pleased that Soleimani is dead.
The killing of Soleimani has changed the world, as the world always changes when the United States moves decisively. For 40 years, no U.S. president dared strike at the heart of the Islamic Republic. It didn’t much matter if the president was a lefty or a righty, a Democrat or a Republican, the basic war game was always the same: We invaded Iran, and lost. If we played the war game today, chances are good that 80 million Iranian people would fight on our side, and the leaders of the regime would be given a choice of lamp posts.
Note that Iran’s key allies, Russia and China, aren't adding their voices to the calls for revenge against the Trump administration. China gave the United States the keys to a Chinese app that the Iranians had been using for their secure communications. Accounts differ as to whether the transfer took place before or after the most recent round of violence in Iran, culminating in the elimination of Soleimani, but it certainly wasn't the sort of help that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was hoping for.
And as for Russia, just before the New Year’s celebrations, this took place, as reported by Radio Free Europe:
“Russian authorities say that they have taken into custody two suspects in connection with a purported plot to carry out terrorist attacks in St. Petersburg on New Year's Eve that was foiled, in part, based on an intelligence tip from the United States.
“The Federal Security Service (FSB) announced last weekend that the men were detained on December 27, based on information from their ‘American partners.’"
Trump wants a working partnership with the Russians, as he does with the Chinese, and as he wanted with the Iranian dictators. But the Persian tyrants know that they have tens of millions of opponents, and relentlessly crack down on them. Khamenei recently told a would-be intermediary from Oman that he didn't want an Omani middleman to mediate the many conflicts between Tehran and Washington.
While Moscow and Beijing see the wisdom of cooperating with Trump, Tehran is banking on his defeat in November. It would be fascinating to study the exchange of documents with Trump’s U.S. opponents, to see what plans the Iranians made to drag out the process of negotiation.
In any case, those plans have now been knocked into a cocked hat. With the death of Soleimani, many of Iran’s schemes perished. Iran is scrambling to save face, as in Iraq, where the United States is reinforcing its troop commitment, and Lebanon and Syria, where Soleimani was a principal architect of Iran’s domination. Iran will go all-out to achieve a U.S. withdrawal, but its chances are poor. Trump didn't order the killing of Soleimani in order to withdraw from the battlefield; if anything, he will intensify U.S. efforts.
The killing of Soleimani was only one in a series of planned U.S. responses to Iranian aggression, and in the days since the strike, there have been many arrests and there will be more. Tehran will keep ordering its proxies to hit Americans and U.S. bases, but such efforts will only lead to more Iranian deaths and arrests. The Iranian strategy of fighting to the last Arab won’t work.
Indeed, Khamenei faces a grim future. Not only does he face an incipient uprising in his own country once the Soleimani circus is over, but he must deal with open rebellion against Iranian influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and the lesser powers. It won't be easy for him.
As we can read at the Belmont Club blog, “There may have been enough resources to launch covert ops against America, but there is way too little to confront it openly.”