The die is cast. There will be a before and after 1/3/2020 for Iran, US, and the Middle East, like before and after 9/11/2001 or before and after 12/18/2010, when the Arab Spring started in Tunisia (and didn’t end yet). The killing of Soileimani started the showdown ofthe cold war between Iran and the US/West, but also between the Shia crescent and the Arab world, and in general between a vision of a radical Political Islam, with religious law primacy on the public system, which born with Iranian Revolution, and a more moderate Political Islam, which sees Islam as a source of inspiration for public policies like in some Arab countries. As ancient Latin said: 2020s will probably be the decade of Redde Rationem. The end of the other Cold War happened nonviolently, after 40 years, but for this one is not sure that will end without violence.
In this decade Iraq, after being the playground for world powers, the place of birth of a criminal state like ISIS, and the land for militias fighting in a new proxy war, could be transformed in the place for the hot war between the Ayatollah Regime and Arab/Sunni world. Since its first human civilizations in Mesopotamia to today, Iraq continue to be the center of the change for Mankind. Iran instead, the country that is the only theocracy in the world right now (apart from the Vatican) and the country that created a new idea of democracy, the “guided democracy” (because people by themselves would not be capable of producing the best outcomes through a “western-style democracy” based on “one man one vote”) became at odds with modernity more and more decade by decade. In different areas of human rights, religion role in public sphere, women role in society, and anti-liberal religious regulations, Iran started two generations ago its ‘global vocation’ to bring the ‘Islamic verb’ to the region and later to the world, and there was no way that this was not going to clash with the rest of the world, in particular the West, the cradle of individual freedom. China and Russia also came to modernity riding the horse of the West, from global markets to modern technologies, grew economically and politically in their sphere of influence through the West, but don’t want to take responsibility today defend modernity as it’s much easier to be Free Riders than to take leadership. So, what will be the future?
Much will depend on what regional powers will do, in particular Israel, Saudi Arabia with its Arab brothers, and Turkey, and what Europe will do, if end finally the “bad deal” or wait to give Iran another chance. 2020 could be start of the escalation with Iran, as a recent Stratfor report argues, or the year of the start of a great bargain to build finally also in West Asia, a security system as in other homogenous regions, like the EU, ASEAN or AU. Only the future will say.