It has been a dazzling week in the international arena. On Jan.3, the United States assassinated Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, escalating tensions to unprecedented heights in the Middle East.
The outcome of the U.S. military operation was completely unpredictable, as Soleimani was considered Iran's second most powerful figure. How Tehran would retaliate against that attack was crucial for the future of the entire region. Iran felt obliged to retaliate against the United States over the killing of Soleimani; Iran's reputation and the clout of its proxy network in Syria, Iraq and Yemen being at stake.
In the aftermath of the Soleimani assassination, both Washington and Tehran issued strongly-worded statements. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced that it had designated multiple U.S. facilities as military targets. The United States responded that it would retaliate heavily against any U.S. casualties.