Iran always has a plan. Sometimes, several plans cocurrently .
The point is, Iran operates on multiple levels. Multiple diabolic plans.
At this very moment, Iran is in dialogue with the United States and the E-3.
The E-3 is a whittled down version of the P-5, composed of the United Kingdom, France and Germany. The dialogue is about the lifting, or easing, of the sanctions imposed on Iran, sanctions that have put a stranglehold on the country’s economy.
Iran is hopeful that the talks will succeed.
Hopeful that the sanctions will be lifted.
Their optimism is understandable.
There seems to be movement in that direction.
That’s because there are indications that the United States is capitulating on the issue of Iran’s nuclear enrichment and the lifting of sanctions.
That’s one level, one plan, and it is unfolding in Vienna.
And as those talks continue, another plan unfolds. As the nuclear dialogue drones on in Vienna, Iran is using military drones to attack American soldiers headquartered in a base in Syria, on the Iraqi border.
It’s not Iran’s first drone strike against the United States presence in Syria — nor will it be their last strike.
Many people in the region, including but not exclusively Iran, characterize the Western presence in the Mideast as an invasion and a colonial force. The anti-Western flank is intent on excising every Western military troop from all traditional Islamic lands.
The ostensible reason for the timing of this drone strike is the second anniversary of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani by the United States.
Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) Al Quds Force, was killed while travelling in his motorcade after landing in the Baghdad airport in Iraq.
The leader of all Iranian military and terror attacks outside of Iran, his imprimatur was on attacks in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Gaza — and even in Europe.
Travelling in the motorcade together with Soleimani, and also killed, was his Iraqi lieutenant, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy leader of the Hashed al-Shaabi, a coalition of pro-Iranian armed militia in Iraq.
The Soleimani assassination was composed of many moving parts.
His arrival at the Baghdad airport and the departure of his motorcade were confirmed by Israeli intelligence in real time. Then-President Trump personally gave the "OK" for this targeted assassination — also in real time.
I'm going into specific details about this assassination anniversary because Iran has gone to great lengths to turn this into an international moment.
Iranian leadership has just sent 11 letters to nine countries asking them to either place on trial or to extradite to Iran 127 people they claim to be responsible for the January 3, 2020 targeting of Qassem Soleimani.
Fars media, which is owned and controlled by the IRGC, posted a story that outlines this unusual request of the Iranian Ministry of Justice.
The Fars news piece reported that, in addition to the minister of justice, the signatures of Iraqi leadership were also affixed to the letters.
While the report did not mention any of the 127 names, it would be a fair assumption that the name Donald Trump, the U.S. president ordering the assassination, would top the list. Mike Pompeo, his former secretary of state, would also certainly hold a prominent spot on the list.
Extraditing or trying 127 people to please Iran sounds like a very big task; yet, it's typically Iranian, and Iran thinks big.
In a mosque, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi gave a memorial speech praising Suleimani. And in that sermon he promised revenge on Trump — unless he is tried and convicted for the targeting of Soleimani.
Raisi said, "The aggressor and the main assassin, the then president of the United States, must face justice and retribution." Raisi also mentioned former-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as "other criminals."
Soleimani was a popular and well-known Iranian leader.
Millions of Iranians were reported to have attended his funeral.
But that support was not wall-to-wall.
Soleimani represented the establishment and much of Iran’s younger generation has begun a movement to counter-balance traditional, religious, leadership of Iran.
On the very day dedicated to Soleimani memorials, a statue was erected in Shahrekord, located in southwestern Iran. Shahrekord is a city of 200,000 people. Later that day, in the evening, the statue was lit on fire and burned. Video of the fire, uploaded onto twitter, went viral internationally. The arsonists were officially condemned.
Clearly, however, some Iranians did not and do not like Soleimani.
Official Iranian policy is to embrace Soleimani.
Official policy is to condemn the West, especially the United States.
However, there is another growing reality in Iran. We do not know how big their group is, but it's a major swath of Iran. That group rejects the official line and are starting to stand up, act up and speak out.
Perhaps like those they oppose, they have a plan.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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