Trump's Cruise Missile Message To Iran

Preemptive Diplomacy of U.S. is much larger and deep that seems.

Trump's brazen bombing of the Syrian Arab Army's (SAA) base outside of Homs has sent strategic shockwaves all throughout the world, most notably in terms of how it impacted already tense Russian-American relations and debunked populist presumptions about the scope of the Russian military mandate in Syria. Militarily, the strike was an absolute failure and didn't change anything significant on the ground except for killing a few soldiers (a martyrdom which mustn't be forgotten amidst all the news coverage over this event), but the most powerful result of this incident was the symbolism that it represented. 

Much has already been discussed about the aforementioned topics and everything related to them, and it's not the purpose of this article to reiterate the many points which have been analyzed in connection with them, but to draw attention to a lesser-noticed message as it relates to Iran. 
It's important to focus on what US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley revealed to CNN's Jake Tapper during a Sunday interview. Listing off the US' four publicly proclaimed priorities in Syria, she said:
"Thirdly, get the Iranian influence out."
This has been a long-standing American, "Israeli", and Saudi objective ever since the war began, and American think tanks such as the Brookings Institution have a pre-conflict track record of speculating about the 'benefits' that a prospective destabilization of Syria could have in adversely harming Iran's regional influence. It's commonly recognized by many analysts that this was one of the driving motivations behind the War of Terror on Syria in the first place. 
Up until this point, however, the only direct engagement against Iranian forces and their militia allies such as Hezbollah has been conducted by "Israel" through its occasional bombing of the Syrian Arab Republic, though Trump has now dangerously introduced the precedent for doing the same sometime in the future. 
The possibility of the US striking the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and Hezbollah is conditional on the assumption that Russia will continue to strictly abide by its military mandate in Syria to only participate in anti-terrorist operations and not intervene in defending the SAA, its allies, or the country's borders. This policy might tacitly change and be indirectly communicated to the US via the standard diplomatic back channels as part of Russia's response to Trump's recent cruise missile attack, in which case the US and even "Israel" might refrain from such a scenario in the future. 
Be that as it may, the odds of Russia taking on the enormous responsibilities of expanding its military mandate to those new proportions and all of their resultant conflict-escalation implications appear minimal, at least for the time being, no matter how convincingly it can be argued by some that this would be in Moscow's best overall strategic interests in preempting the US' possible plans in Syria and elsewhere. 

Accepting that this is the present situational reality, the US might toy with the idea of striking the IRGC and Hezbollah at a future date in order to advance its publicly proclaimed objective of "getting Iranian influence out" of Syria, though taking care that this isn't done in such a way that it completely embarrasses  Russia and undercuts its prestige to the point of promoting the aforementioned mandate expansion which would in principle make this scheme an impossibility. 

The tricky "balancing act" that the US would have to pull off in doing this makes it unlikely that the Pentagon will commit to such an operation in the near future owing to Russia's heightened sensitivity after the last cruise missile attack. Still, it can't be discounted that the precedent which Trump created by last week's strike will eventually be used in fulfilling Haley's stated desire to "get Iranian influence out" of Syria. 
Should the US decide to experiment in using these means to accomplish that task, then it will likely do so only after its two other priorities are first achieved, which Haley stated in the same CNN interview as being the defeat of Daesh and the removal of President Assad from office. The expulsion of Iranian and allied forces from Syria is expected to facilitate the US' final priority that Haley spoken upon, which is a "political solution" to the conflict. 
Assuming for the moment that this is indeed the actual order of the US' objectives in Syria and that it doesn't change (which is a possibility), then there are plausible grounds in forecasting that Trump might order cruise missile strikes against the IRGC and Hezbollah after Daesh is defeated and under the expected guise of "destroying the remaining terrorists in the country" if the said forces don't withdraw before then. 
The US officially views Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization" and Iran as a "state sponsor of terror", and there is already talk in Congress of designating the IRGC as a "terrorist organization" too. Such labels are wholly politicized and unrepresentative of reality, but are nonetheless the fabricated "pretext" that the US could rely on to "justify" this sort of move. 
As with the original cruise missile strike against the SAA, a similar operation against the IRGC and Hezbollah might also be much more about symbolism than substance, dually designed to not only contribute to furthering the perception that Russia's prestige is eroding relative to the US' (though doing so in a "balanced" way just short of 'provoking' Moscow to expand its military mandate), but to put added pressure on Iran to withdraw its and its allies' forces from the post-Daesh battlespace.
The US would probably engender the opposite result through this action by motivating its targets to double down their efforts and retrench, though that might cynically be the purpose if Washington wanted to portray them as "obstructively and illegally remaining in Syria" well past their original purpose. It's of course ridiculous for the US to make that determination, nor is it even in its realm of responsibilities to decide who the sovereign Syrian authorities invite into their country to participate in anti-terrorist and other operations, but this sort of "chutzpah" is characteristic of the US and wouldn't be surprising.
All of the 'required' narrative threads are already present for the US to eventually sew them together into that scenario, which would have as its ultimate aim the introduction of conventional "coalition of the willing" forces (likely Saudi-led and "Israeli"-backed) to carve out "safe/security zones".
"Israel" lost big time in its 2006 war with Hezbollah and the Saudis are suffering a humiliating defeat in Yemen, so all things being equal, they likely wouldn't be able to defeat the IRGC and Hezbollah in Syria, though they might be able to level the strategic playing field just a bit if American air strikes "softened up their targets" and were ordered concurrently with a worsening post-Daesh civil war situation in Iraq. 
For obvious geopolitical reasons, Iran would naturally prioritize the defense of its western border and the Shiite-majority areas in Iraq during a bloody unraveling of its neighbor's territorial integrity around identity-centric fault lines, and this might compel Tehran to urgently redeploy most of its battle-tested Syrian-based IRGC and other allied forces to Iraq instead. 
This would in theory open up a window of "opportunity" for the US to strike against some of the remaining units, though it must be remembered that this is only operationally possible so long as Moscow retains its original military mandate and doesn't expand it to include the defense of allied forces in Syria. If the Arab Republic continues to progress along the trajectory of a de-facto internal partition ("federalization"/"decentralization") brought about by Turkey's occupation of northern Syria and the US' supportive military presence in backing the PYD-YPG Kurds in the northeast, then Russia might calculate that the geopolitical fragmentation process is irreversible and that it wouldn't be worth it or 'wise' to expand its mandate under such challenging circumstances. 
This sort of reasoning would make it all the more likely that the US could exploit the situation in order to advance its long-held objective of sweeping out the (by then) remaining "Iranian influence" from Syria through symbolic cruise missile strikes against the IRGC and Hezbollah, taking advantage of the fact that Russia would be unlikely to militarily intervene in stopping it unless a large-scale and overly embarrassing affront to Russian prestige was imminent (and even then it's still debatable how and to what extent Moscow would realistically react). 
It can be argued that a conventional invasion of "coalition of the willing" forces under the "safe/security zone" false pretext would amount to triggering the aforementioned Russian response that could proactively preclude this scenario from happening, but on the flip side, Russia might "blink" and not have the political will to risk World War III in fighting to preserve the territorial integrity of an allied country which its decision makers and strategists might already be convinced (whether rightly or wrongly) is way past the point of ever returning to its pre-war unitary status again anyhow. 
This strategic environment would be optimal for allowing the US to push the threshold of what would be "acceptable" to Russia, meaning that it would spike the probability that limited cruise missile strikes could be used against the IRGC and Hezbollah in either pressuring them to withdrawal from Syria or manufacturing the pretext needed to "justifying" "safe/security zones". None of this would even be on the table, however, had Trump not successfully shown the world that he can conventionally attack the SAA with impunity, since that single move radically changed every player's calculations in Syria, and some would say that it's been decisively for the worse. 
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