'The bigger challenge and dilemma for Pakistan would be if the US and Saudi Arabia go full throttle against Iran and enforce
regime change in Tehran.' 'That would be bad news for Pakistan, especially with the current instability in Balochistan.
East has been plunged into uncertain security situation with the killing of
Major General Qassem Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful military commander.
General Suleimani made Iran a pioneer in developing capabilities
to fight conventional and high technology war by employing asymmetric means.
General Suleimani, who led the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’s
Quds Force, a special forces unit responsible for Iranian operations outside Iran’s borders, was long a figure of intense interest.
Quds Force has footprints across Asia, Africa, Europe, even North America.
Quds Force members have presence and capabilities to undertake operations
in Turkey, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and other South Asian countries.
There are reports that some
Iranian diplomats are members of the Quds Force and used to report to General Suleimani.
The Quds has offices or ‘sections’ in
many Iranian embassies which are closed to most embassy staff.
He had challenged the US military when he sent a message to General David H
Petraeus, the then American commander in Iraq in 2007, saying, ‘You should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.’
He had also threatened US President Donald J Trump that ‘You may start the war, but we will end it.’
General Suleimani’s death is a big blow to Iran, especially the Quds Force that currently operates in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
The Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq and the Quds Force are most likely to retaliate since the assassination of General Soleimani and PMF commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis has hurt the core of Iran’s military and irregular
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has already warned of severe retaliation.
There is a likelihood of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, even the UAE, getting involved in the conflict.
‘It is hard to imagine that Iran will not retaliate in a highly aggressive manner,’ Robert Malley, president, and chief executive, International Crisis Group, said after the general’s assassination.
What can Iran target to retaliate?
Iran has options to target US assets deployed in West Asia or in the Arabian Sea, major terror strikes against US troops deployed in Syria, Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
In addition, Iran may also launch cyber-attacks on the US.
There is also a possibility of attacks on US consulates
spread across Asia and even beyond.
If Iran retaliates, the region is likely to get destabilised and it will certainly impact energy security.
Oil prices are set to rise, thereby putting a strain on global economies.
If the escalation does take place, the Gulf of Oman and the Straits
of Hormuz will become the graveyard of global economies. It will impact approximately 25% of global oil supply.
Iran may use Houthi militias
to disrupt sea lines of communication in the Red Sea. Drones/missile attacks against Saudi Arabia will intensify.