Veteran Diplomat Breaks Down Impacts of U.S. Airstrike on Iranian General

Jan 3, 2020

A veteran American diplomat says Iranian retaliation for America's assassination of one of their top generals in Iraq could take many forms.

The Defense Department says it took "decisive action" to protect Americans when it killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in an air strike. The move has inflamed an already tense state of affairs between Iran and the U.S.

Ronald Neumann is the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Algeria, and Bahrain. He's a Middle Eastern policy expert who now serves president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. 

"To me, it's very likely that we will have new strikes against our forces in Iraq, because it would be in their interest to provoke us to more relatiation inside Iraq, and keep the Iraqi politics working against us," he said. 

He said he doesn't expect a direct Iranian assault against American forces, but says they're likely to work through proxies like the Taliban in Afghanistan to attack the U.S.

President Donald Trump ordered the air strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad's international airport late Thursday evening.

Neumann said he's concerned how things are playing out so far. 

"This should not be looked at just as a military confrontation. The game is primarily political. And I'm not sure by attacking inside Iraq that we're playing that game very well," he said. 

But he said only time will tell.