Top commander’s assassination leaves Iran with very few options to retaliate
The operation was very well planned, organized and executed. The United States had access to very sensitive information and likely had been tracking Soleimani’s movements and activity for a long time.
The scene was indeed set perfectly. Washington could not have chosen a better time, as after a series of protests from Baghdad to Tehran and Beirut, Soleimani had lost some public support and was seen as part of Iran’s suppression system against people and their free wills. The attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad had also turned the majority of Iraqi political forces and the international community against Soleimani as the highest — albeit unofficial — leader of the PMU. The location turned out to be perfect as well. The strike took place in Iraqi territory, raising questions among the Iraqi public about the reason for an Iranian general being present in Iraq, especially after accusations facing Iran-backed forces of killing Iraqi protesters and abducting many of them. Selecting a quiet place in the airport also prevented the killing of any civilians that might allow Iran to victimize themselves and demonize the United States.
This all indicates that Iran and its proxies in the region most likely would not seek revenge in the near future and — in regard to Iraq, in particular — would not lead Iraq to fall into a civil war or mass destruction, because it would lose even more in Iraq if it takes such a risk.
Iran is also very unlikely to push its Iraqi political forces to go ahead with legislation asking US troops to leave the country, as this would raise strong objections from Kurdish and Sunni forces and push them to work for separation. Iran would be the first party affected by such a dangerous move.
I wouldn’t mind seeing the USA leave both Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time, both were “Bush’s Folly”. But going into Iraq without a idea or a plan for how to run the country after we deposed Saddam and the Ba’ath Party was the first mistake. Obie’s rapid retreat in his first term was the second mistake. And bugging out now that ISIS is chilled but Iran is still a player would be the third. That doesn’t hold for Afghanistan, we should get out of there tomorrow.
But killing Soleimani was a win-win; in Iraq, in Syria, in Iran with the anti-regime forces.