The elimination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the United States earlier this year has had “significant effect” in deterring the Iranian threat, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, said on Wednesday.
“I think that has had a significant effect in establishing and reestablishing a rough form of deterrence in the theater,” McKenzie told the Middle East Institute during a virtual event, according to JNS.
Since Soleimani’s death, Iran has been “having to recalculate what we’ll do and not do” in that the regime has “seen we have the capability and the will to respond,” said McKenzie.
At the same time, he stressed that Iran “actively stokes instability,” including in Syria and Yemen, through arming proxy forces in those places such as, respectively, Hezbollah and the Houthis.
Iran retaliated for the killing of Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles on two Iraqi military bases hosting American troops. 34 service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack.
The tensions between the US and Iran have continued in recent months. The US Navy recently issued a warning to mariners in the Gulf to stay 100 meters away from US warships or risk being “interpreted as a threat and subject to lawful defensive measures”.
While no mention was made of Iran in the notice, it follows US President Donald Trump’s threat last month to fire on any Iranian ships that harass Navy vessels.
Trump’s warning followed a tense encounter between US and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf.
The US military said at the time that 11 Revolutionary Guards naval vessels from the Guards navy came close to US Navy and coast guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative”.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acknowledged that the incident had taken place, but also claimed that it was American forces who sparked the incident.