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(January 10, 2020) Concentric Mideast wars and prospects

Nothing captures attention in an age of media saturation like the talk of war. The recent decision by US President Donald Trump to assassinate a top Iranian official, Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, has conjured up the spectre of a wider conflict encompassing not just the Middle East but the broader world, as Iran's top leaders deemed it "an act of war" and vowed "severe revenge". Although Iran's military and its proxy militias and client states in the Middle East and elsewhere are poised to exact retribution for their loss, we are unlikely to see a world war in the immediate aftermath of this killing.

To be sure, Mr Trump's executive decision was unilateral and in flagrant violation of international law because the assassination was carried out in Iraq. As their sovereignty has been undermined, the Iraqis unsurprisingly want the US to leave for good. American forces there were never welcome since the Global War on Terror from 2003 but now they will be even more hard pressed to stay.