As tensions between the U.S. and Iran heighten, President Donald Trump defended last week’s airstrike killing top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, telling reporters in the Oval Office that his order “saved a lot of lives.” In an interview with Yahoo Finance before Iran fired missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq early Wednesday, president of Geopolitical Futures George Friedman says right now that Iran is scrutinizing its intelligence infrastructure.
“Right now what the Iranians are doing is trying to examine their entire intelligence infrastructure to find out how [Soleimani’s location] leaked,” Friedman told Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker. “Because that really is the mystery of this. Not that there was the attack, but that the Iranians seem to be penetrated.”
The Department of Homeland Security has warned that Iran has a history of cybercrime, causing defense and intelligence officials to brace for the possibility of a counter attack. Last week, a group claiming to be Iranian hackers broke into a federal government library website, but the FBI has not confirmed the hack to be legitimate.
“I don't really see [cyber hacks] as a response,” Friedman says. “A normal response for Iranian intelligence is two things: One, they wait quite a while before carrying out their response, and two, they attack on a populated area, trying to cause as many casualties as possible.”
The Trump administration says it is clear that Soleimani was building a network to potentially attack Americans. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doubled down on the decision on Tuesday, saying the Department of Defense “got it right.”
“The problem [Iran has] right now — and it's not a trivial problem — is they don't know the U.S. knows everything they're doing,” Friedman explains. “They may hope it's not true, but the evidence is that we have some pretty good intelligence on them.”
Separately, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday that the U.S. is “prepared to finish” a war with Iran. But Friedman says Iran is not equipped for such an attack.
“[The] Iranians do not have the ability to wage war against the United States,” Friedman says. “If they were to get into an air war, the United States would very quickly eliminate them.”