Leaders of Iran have univocally declared revenge for the killing of the general with a US drone. The authorities consider diplomacy as one of the options.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and U.S. President Donald Trump talk tough but neither have indicated an interest in all-out war although the possibility of military confrontation cannot be ruled out.
If Khamenei calls for restraint, he could look weak at home and among regional proxies. So he may opt for small-scale retaliation.
Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Khamenei must carefully calibrate the reaction. “A weak response risks losing face, an excessive response risks losing his head.”
A U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency report in December said Iran relies on three main military capabilities – its ballistic missile programme, naval forces that can threaten navigation in the oil-producing Gulf region, and militia proxies in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.