Date: 17 August 2022  Author: Kacper Gatlik

An eye for an eye, Bolton for Soleimani

The US Department of Justice informed the US public about the Iranian government’s plan to assassinate John Bolton, a former White House national security adviser. The American politician exposed himself to the rulers in Tehran with his critical comment on a member of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons

Shahram Poursafi, an Iranian soldier from the IRGC, was selected to carry out the assassination. The award for the order was to be $300,000. As John Bolton admits, he is “embarrassed by such a low offer.”[1]

John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations in 2005–2006, has been seen as an opponent of “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA”[2] since 2015. After President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement in 2018, John Bolton did not change his rhetoric. The American administration obtained his support in exiting the JCPOA format.

In 2018–2019, John Bolton served as White House National Security Advisor.[3] His views on Iran may have influenced President Donald Trump’s later decisions in the context of the anti-Iranian stance and the decision to assassinate General Qasem Soleimani, an officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iraq, in January 2020. General Soleimani was an experienced military man who fought in the Syrian Civil War.[4]

At the Astana Summit in July 2022, Iranian President Ebrahim Ra’isi called the death of General Qasem Soleimani a symbol of resistance, struggle and opposition to terrorism.[5] According to members of the Astana trilateral format, US activity in the Fertile Crescent area affects the interests of Turkey, Russia, Iran and Syria. The Turks are fighting the Kurds in Syria. The Americans are hindering the implementation of Turkish military operations in the region by supporting the YPG logistically and militarily. Russia and Iran want to keep the politician Bashar Al-Assad in power in Damascus, whom General Soleimani supported militarily in Syria. Therefore, the attempted murder of Bolton can be considered a revenge of the rulers in Tehran against the American establishment for the death of an Iranian general.

On Twitter, in the Iranian section, you can see anti-American posts and a sense of harm suffered by the Iranian people after the death of General Soleimani.[6] From a military perspective for the United States, his assassination was a step forward in cutting off Iranians from human resources in Iraq. The death of the general resulted in the loss of military initiative which made it difficult for Tehran to rule Iraq. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State in the administration of President Donald Trump, justified Soleimani’s death with the fact that the Iranians planned an attack on American strategic and civilian targets in Iraq, including at the US Embassy.[7]

Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Tehran’s growing position on the military and political levels in the region has been negatively perceived by the United States and its allies (Israel and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf). Iran’s sphere of influence, which includes North Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Syria, makes it difficult for the US to pursue its own interests in the region. Iran’s financial support for Hamas in Palestine undermines stability in the Gaza Strip and in Israel’s West Bank. The occupation of the city of Sanaa and northern Yemen by Houthi militants suppresses the initiative of Yemeni government forces in the region. Pro-Iranian separatists are launching Iranian missile, ballistic missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia’s energy infrastructure, destabilizing the Persian Gulf region.[8] The military presence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Iraqi territory and the pro-Iranian Shiite government coalition in Baghdad are preventing Iraqi national political forces such as Al-Sadr, the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shiites, from forming a new Iraqi government.[9] Iran’s support for the long-standing Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is intended to ensure the maintenance of the territorial integrity of the Syrian Islamic Republic. The pro-Iranian Lebanese extremist party Hezbollah is critical of the Christian Maronite Church in Lebanon. Hezbollah deepens social polarization by creating divisions between “traitors” cooperating with Israel – as in the case of the Archbishop of the Maronite Church, Musa Al-Hajj[10] – and “his people”, who have supported Hezbollah since 2005, incl. Christian Patriotic Liberation Movement.

The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Countries) community from the Arabian Peninsula took steps to weaken Iranian influence in the region after politicians from the Shi’ite party in Lebanon negatively assessed Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, while positively referring to the activities of Houthi militias. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to exert political pressure on the rulers in Beirut, reduced cash subsidies for the reconstruction of Lebanon in connection with the ongoing economic crisis there.[11] Due to the difficult economic situation in Lebanon, Hezbollah is backed by the pro-Iranian government in Baghdad with supplies of Iraqi crude oil.[12]

According to the Iranian side, “Tehran did not plan any murder.” Iran’s rulers see the situation as an American provocation.[13] During the presidency of Donald Trump, John Bolton negatively assessed Iran’s foreign policy and pushed for a more aggressive attitude towards him.[14] In the past, Bolton has stated that “the only way to shut down Iran’s nuclear program is through regime change in Tehran.” If not for the quick reaction of the American services and the bilateral cooperation between the FBI and John Bolton, one of the most important persons for the national security of the United States could have died. This situation would have serious consequences for the already difficult US-Iranian relationship. A counterattack by Washington would be likely. However, it is difficult to predict what the American reaction to the situation would be.

[1] John Bolton says he’s ’embarrassed’ that an Iranian Revolutionary Guard member offered the ‘low price’ of just $300,000 to assassinate him , https://www.businessinsider.com/john-bolton-embarrassed-low-price-300000-assassination-iran-irgc-2022-8?IR=T.

[2] US uncovers Iran ‘plot’ to kill ex-White House official John Bolton: https://www.arabnews.com/node/2140076/world

[3] US uncovers Iran ‘plot’ to kill ex-White House official John Bolton: https://www.arabnews.com/node/2140076/world

[4] Qassem Soleimani: Moscow’s Syria Decision – Myth and Reality: https://inss.ndu.edu/Media/News/Article/2074132/qassem-soleimani-moscows-syria-decision-myth-and-reality/

[5] The Iranian-Russian alliance and Turkey taking care of its interests in the region: https://warsawinstitute.org/iranian-russian-alliance-turkey-taking-care-interests-region/

[6] https://twitter.com/search?q=iran&src=typed_query

[7] US uncovers Iran ‘plot’ to kill ex-White House official John Bolton :https://www.arabnews.com/node/2140076/world

[8] Iran’s drones are a buzzing menace for Saudi Arabia: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/irans-drones-are-a-buzzing-menace-for-saudi-arabia/

[9] Iraq’s Sadr tells judiciary to dissolve parliament in a week: https://www.arabnews.com/node/2140126/middle-east

[10] Maronite Church under fire from Hezbollah: https://warsawinstitute.org/maronite-church-fire-hezbollah/

[11] What’s Behind the Lebanon-Gulf Diplomatic Row?: https://www.usip.org/publications/2021/11/whats-behind-lebanon-gulf-diplomatic-row

[12] Iraq to supply Lebanon with fuel for electricity for another year: Lebanese PM: https://www.arabnews.com/node/2140911/business-economy

[13] US uncovers Iran ‘plot’ to kill ex-White House official John Bolton :https://www.arabnews.com/node/2140076/world

[14] John Bolton Was Target of Assassination Plot by Iranian National: https://www.wsj.com/articles/iranian-national-sought-to-kill-john-bolton-u-s-says-11660143066

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