Dr Georg Löfflmann, Research Fellow in International Security in the Department of Politics and International Studies, comments:-
"The great danger of Trump's decision to launch a drone strike and kill General Soleimani is that he risks a wider military escalation in the Middle East and a confrontation with Iran with incalculable consequences.
"Iran might attack US facilities and troops in the region directly, mobilise its proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, or attack US close allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel, or even do all of these things combined. From mining the Strait of Hormuz and interrupting a vital route of the global oil supply to launching a range of terrorist attacks and drone strikes Teheran has many options to retaliate.
"Whether Trump has anything resembling an actual strategy vis-à-vis Iran is highly doubtful. While the US President likes to project an image of strength, the United States ultimately risks another war in the Middle East without any better chances at long-term success than Afghanistan or Iraq.
"Domestically however, should hostilities break out between the two countries, even just a limited US campaign of air strikes against Iranian targets might boost Trump’s re-election campaign and sufficiently distract from his impeachment woes. Bill Clinton launched cruise missiles on Sudan during the height of the Lewinsky affair, emulating this Trump might have looked for a quick fix to his domestic troubles, but geopolitically he has now triggered a much larger crisis that he seems unfit to grasp and unable to control."
7 January 2020
Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick