Skip to main content

Intel: CENTCOM commander says Soleimani strike won’t deter Iran forever

The top commander of US military forces in the Middle East says he believes the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani has only temporarily deterred Iran from pursuing its goal of pushing US troops out of the region.
A Iranian man carries a portrait of slain Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, on the 40th day of his killing in a US drone strike, during commemorations marking 41 years since the Islamic Revolution, in the capital Tehran on February 11, 2020. - Thousands of Iranians massed for commemorations marking 41 years since the Islamic Revolution, in a show of unity at a time of heightened tensions with the United States. The celebrations mark the day that Shiite cleric Khomeini returned from exile and ousted the shah'

The top commander of US military forces in the Middle East says he believes the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani has only temporarily deterred Iran from pursuing its goal of pushing US troops out of the region.

“I draw no confidence from periods of quiet,” the head of the US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, said in an interview with Bloomberg published today. “That's when I actually begin to look very hard at what the Iranians might be up to because I think they have long-term goals to eject us,” he said.

Why it matters: The US military carried out an order by President Donald Trump to kill Soleimani after suspected Iran-linked militias in Iraq killed an American contractor in a rocket barrage. The continuing rocket attacks followed sabotage of oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and cruise missile and drone strikes on two of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil processing facilities on Sept. 14. The United Nations has said projectiles recovered at the site were of Iranian origin.

McKenzie has said the killing of Soleimani has restored a “rough deterrence” against Iran ­— that is, Washington believes Tehran is unlikely to risk another significant attack on US forces or allies for now, but that Iran’s proxy forces in the region are harder to control.

“I remember well the lesson of last fall where we were in a relative period of quiet and, bang, they attacked Aramco,” McKenzie told Bloomberg.

What’s next: Nobody knows. Iran may be waiting out the November presidential elections in the United States or biding time ahead of a vote scheduled for October at the United Nations over renewing an international arms embargo on Iran. The United States is pushing for the embargo to be renewed, while Russia and China have objected to US efforts.

Germany, France and the United Kingdom have said they will not support the Trump administration’s effort if it goes through with its threat to “snap back” international sanctions on Tehran should the embargo vote fail. The United States' European allies have warned that reactivating the sanctions risks collapsing what remains of the 2015 nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has threatened a “firm response” should US actions further damage the deal.

The UN has said that Iran has also violated the deal in response to the US withdrawal.

Know more: A top United Nations expert has called the US killing of Soleimani “unlawful” and said it violated the UN charter. The Trump administration insists it killed Soleimani based on knowledge that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was planning imminent attacks on US personnel and allies, but has yet to provide any evidence.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial