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Tip Sheets

Soleimani killing sparks ‘complex and unpredictable’ situation

A U.S. airstrike killed top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, early Friday morning at the Baghdad airport, prompting Iran to vow retaliation and causing global concern for an escalation of violence.

Steven Michael Ward

Assistant Professor of Government

Steven Michael Ward is assistant professor of government at Cornell University who studies the causes and conduct of war. He says the risk of a large-scale conflict following this assassination is “uncomfortably high.”

Ward says:

“The United States’ killing of Qassem Soleimani represents a dramatic and dangerous escalation of the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran. Iran will likely retaliate in some manner, and given President Trump’s inclination to ‘hit back’ – as well as the administration’s dysfunctional national security policy process – the risk that things could spiral towards full-blown conflict is uncomfortably high.

“The domestic political context – the ongoing impeachment of the president, as well as the 2020 presidential election campaign – makes this situation even more complex and unpredictable.”

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