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US-Iran war is a lot closer but won't be conventional — expert

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By Chris Harris
US-Iran war is a lot closer but won't be conventional — expert
Copyright  Euronews

War between the US and Iran is a lot closer after the assassination of elite general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike, an expert has told Euronews.

Soraya Lennie, a Middle East analyst from London's SOAS University, said there were not many positive avenues left for de-escalation after the US attack.

"Iran is a rational state actor," she said. "However, given the immense pressure from hardline actors domestically, but perhaps also abroad with groups like Hezbollah, it [Iran] is really going to have to walk a tightrope as to how it retaliates and if does indeed retaliate.

"One would think that no-one wants war but we have seen of course in the past couple of years that there are certain state actors within the region who are really pushing the United States towards war and that reality has become closer with the election of Donald Trump and a lot closer with the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

"Given that Iran has really gambled on a nuclear accord that the US has walked away from and Trump has eroded a lot of the critical capital that the reformists had to try diplomacy in Iran, I really don't see a lot of positive avenues left open to de-escalate this crisis.

"Iran cannot fight the US in a conventional war - it just cannot match the United States in terms of its military assets.

"However, what it does well, is asymmetrical warfare. Iran has spent many years — particularly since the 1979 revolution — building critical capital in states like Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, in places that the United States — no matter how much money, no matter what kind of fancy weapons it has — it just cannot build that critical capital on a ground level.

"Iran can draw on that. So if there is some kind of war, I don't expect it necessarily to be a conventional war. Expect Iran to draw on its proxies to pressure American assets throughout the region and I think the United States is cottoning on to that, the embassy in Iraq has already told US personnel and citizens to leave the country."