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“A Banquet of Consequences”

“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”  Robert Louis Stevenson

“Before you begin on the journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Proverb

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Louis B. Smedes

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

“Revenge is a dish that is best served cold.” Pierre Choderlos De Laclos

‘Political theater’ … ‘will not replace the blood-for-blood desire for revenge.’ Anonymous Iranian Political Insider

This week I would like to re-look at something that happened earlier this year and evaluate its impact concerning possible consequences that are still to be reaped. Vengeance, a very human condition, relates specifically to this significant 2020 event.

On January 2, 2020, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander, Qassem Soleimani was assassinated. General Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US drone at the Baghdad airport on January 2nd, 2020. Most of us have forgotten what happened. However, there are still some very angry people who have no intention of letting it go. Just to remind you, I wrote about Qassem Soleimani on January 21, 2020. To review that article click here.

An Iranian friend explained to me that he thought Soleimani died of natural causes. He reasoned, “If you had committed as many global acts of cruelty, brutality, and terrorism as he had, naturally, somebody was going to kill you.” This is an Iranian understanding of: “You reap what you sow.”

If you thought that the chapter on Soleimani was closed, think again. The cycle of vengeance is a ruthless bedfellow. There is far more happening concerning this subject than meets the eye.

The review.

On September 19th, 2020, 262 days after General Qassem Soleimani died, the new commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, tweeted, (yes, I said tweeted) “Mr. Trump! Our revenge for martyrdom of our great general is obvious, serious, and real. We will hit those who had direct and indirect roles,” Hossein said. “You should know that everybody who had a role in the event will be hit, and this is a serious message. We do prove everything in practice.” 

Is this simply bravado?  Or is it, even by way of a tweet, (which the very word “tweet” does not ring with sounds of ominous seriousness) a serious threat of revenge? I would propose that it is the latter and that the repercussions for such an action will bear with it even greater consequences. How many will die and how much destruction will ensue before the revenge is exacted, by both sides? That remains to be played out.

What are some potential responses? On the 20th of September, US President, Donald Trump tweeted, (yep, tweeted!) “If they hit us in any way, any form, written instructions already done we’re going to hit them 1000 times harder.” One must wonder if that is a figure of speech or a genuine calculated reality. Does that mean that if Iran kills 10 Americans, then the US will kill 10,000 Iranians? Do you see the natural consequences of these kinds of bravado? It has a tendency to get ugly. Where will the cycle of revenge find its exit ramp?

First as an aside…What happens when intelligence is produced which indicates that an American citizen is being threatened with violence?  An intelligence community directive known as “Duty to Warn” requires US spy agencies to notify a potential victim if intelligence indicates their life could be in danger; in the case of US government officials, credible threats would be included in briefings and security planning. The intelligence is also included in the CIA World Intelligence Review, known as the WIRe, a classified product that is accessible to senior policy and security officials throughout the US government, as well as among certain lawmakers and their staff.

What are the current directives that have been issued to American citizens? Recently, the Intelligence Community picked up intelligence that the US Ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks was being targeted by Iran as a potential revenge target. Why? There are several theories. Iranian clandestine underground networks are extensive in South Africa. They have plenty of resources already in place. Secondly, Marks is a long- time friend of President Trump and a long-time member of Mar a Lago, the president’s country club. Last, Marks may also be an easier target than US diplomats in other parts of the world, such as Western Europe, where the US has stronger relationships with local law enforcement and intelligence services.

How serious is Iran about revenge for the killing of General Soleimani? So far, Iranian threats seem mostly rhetorical. However, Ali Shamkani, Secretary of The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) of the Islamic Republic has outlined a potential of 13 scenarios that the Iranian government is considering in order to exact revenge on Soleimani’s death. Shamkhani has insisted that even the weakest scenarios under consideration will create a “historic nightmare” for the United States.  Shamkani punctuated his threats with this ominous conclusion. “Should Americans not leave the region on their own, we would push out their bodies horizontally (in coffins).” 

However, hours later, Fars and Tasnim removed the report from their websites, without any explanation. Citing the SNSC, Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, dismissed that the interview with Shamkani had even taken place.

What was the American response? President Donald Trump said that the United States has targeted 52 Iranian sites that it would strike if Iran attacks Americans or US assets in response to a US drone strike that killed Iranian military commander, Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

The Iranian government has not outlined what the thirteen scenarios are, except through a lot of innuendoes and strategically leaked reports through the official Iranian news outlets. Some of those scenarios include missile attacks on US military installations and American diplomatic and civilian personnel scattered across the Middle East and Africa. Attacks on US citizens living in Europe are considered prime targets as well, due to the general sense of safety for Americans in Europe. 

The New York Times reported that Iran’s Supreme Leader  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei personally weighed in on how Iran should respond – insisting Iran directly retaliate for the killing. The report said, “In a rare appearance at a meeting of the government’s National Security Council” hours after the killing, Khamenei said the response “must be a direct and proportional attack on American interests” and be “openly carried out by Iranian forces themselves.”

The Supreme Leader of Iran seldom visits the Government Council, therefore his appearance there is a demonstration of their resolve to correct this heinous embarrassment of the Iranian military and government. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top military commanders have said Iranian retaliation for the action of the US would match the scale of Soleimani’s killing but that it would be at a time and place of Tehran’s choosing. This is key…

One of the cultural strengths of the Middle East and Near East is that they are prepared to play the long game, one that Western cultures do not play as well. In a nutshell? The revenge for the killing of General Qassem Soleimani has not been exacted. The reason is not that the Iranian government has let it go, and decided to take the high road. They are simply waiting on the right moment when they believe that the US government has forgotten. Then, their revenge will become operational. 

The assumption is that the Iranians will respond with a variety of attacks. Their responses will most surely include Iranian forces, and will almost certainly include proxy forces as well, such as operatives, and possibly Hezbollah. They will come on numerous fronts. They will be highly coordinated and synchronized, with attacks designed to exact the highest levels of punishment. The amount of bloodshed will be the metric of their success.

The response from the United States and its allies will remain a mystery, however, they will be swift and thorough, eliciting a global condemnation from the world and another methodical strike from Iran. The question remains: Who will blink first and decide to stop the destruction?

The why.

I do not want to elicit feelings of fear or discouragement. What I hope this warning will produce for us is situational awareness, as well as intelligent action. September 25th is: “If You See Something, Say Something” Awareness Day. I’ll bet you didn’t even know there was a “…See Something, Say Something” day!

Our families, communities, cities, and nations will be able to weather such potential attacks if we as communities work together. Understanding potential threats is a healthy starting place. 

The action.

Know what “normal” looks like. When it comes to situational awareness, understanding what “right” looks like is key. How can you know when something may be wrong if you are not sure when something is right. This requires us to practice being observant, making it a discipline. It is not difficult; it merely requires a little practice.

I recommend what I call the “1,10,100 Rule.” Every time I walk out my door I take about 15 seconds to look immediately around me at about an arm’s length (1 meter); then I look out to about 10 meters; then I look out to about 100 meters. Each time I ask myself the question: Is there anything that is not normal here? If it is not normal, my situational awareness level goes up until I rule out any possible threats. After I do, I allow my situational awareness level to go back down.

That’s it. This simple practice can save your life, the life of your family, and your community or company. I would start by putting a sticky note next to your doorways with “1,10,100” on it. See if that helps you begin to establish this habit in your life. 

The follow-up.

Could Trump Assassinate A World Leader and Get Away With It? https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2020/09/could-trump-assassinate-world-leader-and-get-away-it/168609/

Russia launches Kavkaz-2020 military drills, featuring forces from Iran, China…https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/russia/2020/russia-200921-presstv02.htm?_m=3n%2e002a%2e2889%2ejv0ao0az9m%2e2o4f

The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:  [email protected]

Resources.

https://www.rferl.org/a/irgc-chief-threatens-to-go-after-americans-who-killed-top-general/30847245.html

https://taskandpurpose.com/news/iran-threatens-retaliation-over-soleimani-killing?mc_cid=4fdd8f747e&mc_eid=11e02f3a1d

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/13/iran-south-africa-ambassador-assassination-plot-413831

https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-denies-statement-by-top-admiral-of-thirteen-scenarios-for-revenge/30364901.html

https://www.asiavillenews.com/article/iran-considering-13-revenge-scenarios-after-us-strike-27017

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iran-mulls-13-revenge-scenarios-for-soleimani-killing/1695318

https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/russia/2020/russia-200921-presstv02.htm?_m=3n%2e002a%2e2889%2ejv0ao0az9m%2e2o4fhttps://

https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/iran-considering-13-revenge-scenarios-after-us-strike-report-613401

https://www.businessinsider.com/iran-missile-strike-revenge-not-finished-2020-1

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/07/how-iran-could-retaliate-against-the-us-after-solemani-killing.html

https://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something

 

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