News and Commentary

Top Journalist Warns That Iran Firing Missiles At U.S. Troops Is Not How They’ll Retaliate
BEIRUT, Jan. 5, 2020 -- Supporters shout slogans during a rally for Qassem Soleimani in southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, on Jan. 5, 2020. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah urged on Sunday its fighters to attack U.S. soldiers in the region in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani by the United States.
Xinhua/ via Getty Images

Journalist Yashar Ali, who closely follows Middle East affairs, cautioned those who think that the United States came out on top on Tuesday night after Iran’s missile attack on bases in Iraq caused minimal damage. Iran is most likely going to seek revenge through non-conventional means of warfare and on their own timeline, Ali warned.

The New York Times reported Tuesday on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ announcement of the beginning of its “fierce revenge”:

“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said in a statement on a Telegram messaging app channel.

Iraqi military officials said that Iran had fired 22 missiles at two military bases in Iraq where American troops are stationed. United States officials initially said there were no immediate indications of American casualties, and senior Iraqi officials later said that there were no American or Iraqi casualties in the strikes.

Ali, whose family is from Iran, wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread that he is concerned that America might get distracted by Iran’s attack on Tuesday and be lulled into thinking that Iran just wanted to save face knowing that it could not enter a full-scale military conflict with the U.S.

“I want to express this carefully cause I don’t want to minimize anything that results in loss of life. But missiles flying back/forth in Mid East is all too common (something US can handle) & not what makes me nervous about the Soleimani situation,” Ali wrote.

Ali posted a link to Wall Street Journal report that he said highlighted his concerns.

“What makes me nervous is illustrated in the WSJ story. The Iranian government has always operated on its own timeline. If you think Iran lobbing missiles over the border is the kind of revenge they ultimately have in mind, you’re wrong,” Ali wrote. “Example: In 2012, assassins kill an Iranian nuclear chemist (likely directed by Israel). Iran promises revenge. Where does the ultimate revenge take place? A month later in Georgia, India and Thailand where Israeli diplomats are targeted with bombs.”

“Example: In 1992, IDF killed the Sec General of Hezbollah. Where did Iran retaliate? In Buenos Aires with a truck bomb driven into the Israeli embassy. That attack killed 29 people. Another attack two years later took place at the Jewish Community Center killing 85 people,” Ali continued. “Those examples are pretty tight timelines for Iranians. The Iranian gov sees revenge as almost a generational thing…their timeline can be in months/years. Revenge always doesn’t come via a show of force they take PUBLIC credit for.”

“So what I’m saying is all these people with their chest thumping, I would be cautious about what you see as Iranian revenge and unfortunately prepare yourselves for the kind of attacks that are unexpected, that don’t follow a tight timeline, and show up where you least expect,” Ali continued. “If people think that this is it…that Iran has chosen to retaliate against the US for killing the second most powerful man in Iran, by lobbing some missiles across the border that didn’t result in US casualties then I have a bridge to sell you.”

“I can’t believe I’m seeing people saying that this was a face saving move by Iran and now that there haven’t been any US casualties, that we should move on. The level of naivety is astonishing. Do people really think this is how Iran is going to retaliate?” Ali concluded. “The problem is so many people have thought about this situation through the lens of conventional warfare. So they believe if there is no conventional warfare that the situation has deescalated. But conventional warfare should have never been the concern!”