TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A senior political commentator based in London deplored the US move to assassinate Iran’s revered commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, as “an act of war” and said the American imperialists and their allies are now unsafe in the region.

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“It is impossible to see the US maintain troop levels in Iraq unless they occupy Iraq again and that requires a bloodbath,” Riaz Karim told Press Shia in an interview.

“In a nutshell, the imperialists and their allies are unsafe in the region from the Levant to the Persian Gulf and beyond,” he added.

Dr. Riaz Karim holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the Director of the Veritas Centre for Strategic Studies in London. He is also an analyst and commentator for a number of media outlets around the world.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Press Shia: The White House and the Pentagon claimed responsibility for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, saying the attack was carried out at the direction of US President Donald Trump. As you know, the revered commander was an international figure representing the Axis of Resistance. Given the latest regional developments, how do you interpret the assassination?

Karim: As they say, when you think you have killed a lion, you better pray it doesn’t get back up. We all know nothing about Iran is being done without Israel’s involvement and this was no exception, the coordinates were provided by Israel for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, but Israel wanted to avoid the repercussions of taking the assassination upon themselves so they did the next best thing, put the gun on Trump’s shoulder and fire it, and we all know that Trump will take the bragging rights any day in order to appease his base. This is a case of Trump being cornered by impeachment and Bibi Netanyahu is being indicted in such a case. Nothing fits in like an external threat to rally the internal troops, only this time it’s a blunder of seismic proportions and there is no plan B.

Ultimately, it does not matter where the intelligence came from, the fact is that the targeted assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and the Hashd al-Sha’abi second in command Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis qualifies as an act of war that was unprovoked, unilateral and illegal by any stretch of the imagination.

There cannot be a more blatant provocation of Iran than what we have just witnessed in a long list of provocations and sanctions, this tops it all and the repercussions and the blowback could be bloody and far-fetching.

Press Shia: According to many military experts, General Soleimani had a major role in fighting terrorist groups, particularly Daesh (ISIS or ISIL), in Iraq and Syria. How do you think about the top generals’ success in combating US-backed terrorism and its effect on his assassination?

Karim: Let’s get one thing straight. The Legendary Late Major General Qassem Soleimani is not a name the world takes lightly, he was revered but more than that, he was a military strategist like no other, he could eat most Generals and strategists for breakfast. It was Soleimani who defeated ISIS in Iraq, this had nothing to do with Americans bombing countries to rubble. Soleimani has attained the legendary status almost mythical for legions of Hezbollah supporters, the Houthis in Yemen, thousands of resistance fighters in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

It is impossible to see the US maintain troop levels in Iraq unless they occupy Iraq again and that requires a bloodbath. In a nutshell, the imperialists and their allies are unsafe in the region from the Levant to the Persian Gulf and beyond.

Tehran will, however, be very careful in how they retaliate, they are very savvy and will hit back where it hurts and at the most opportune time.

Press Shia: In a statement on Friday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei warned that harsh revenge awaits the criminals behind the martyrdom of General Soleimani. Many believe that if Iran does not take revenge, it will lead to more attacks from the US. In your opinion, how severe would Tehran respond to the “terrorist act” by Washington and how can the response create deterrence against the US and its future moves in the region?

Karim: This is a two-part question on its own, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei is aware of the complexities of the issue and he has a complete handle on the leadership, I am not surprised that he came out with a stern warning, there will be revenge: “A forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of other Martyrs last night on their hands.” This is not a light statement there will be blowback and it will be very painful.

The one thing Donald Trump has been able to singlehandedly do is unite the political Parties in Iran under one banner. All parties are now behind the government in demanding revenge, this may be construed as a very minor thing in the West but this is absolutely huge to have all parties on the same page calling for the same thing and that means the blowback will be nothing to laugh about.

Part two is the Assassination of Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis. He led the Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Force) a grassroots organization that is on its way to become the new Hezbollah and as powerful as Hezbollah.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the Supreme Religious Authority in Iraq who is universally respected, fully supports them. So the US strikes at Sistani supporters as well because Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was very revered and very influential plus Hashd al-Sha’abi operated under the guidelines of the Iraqi prime minister, so now we have a problem in Iraq as well.

This makes the strike in Iraq a complete strategic blunder which can only be pulled off by an amateur and Donald Trump fits the bill like a glove, for a few minutes of accolades from the evangelicals in Florida, he has put his men and women in uniform in completely unchartered territory.