A day after Iran fired more than a dozen rockets at Iraqi bases that host American troops that raised fears that the two countries were fast heading toward a war seem to be changing. President Donald Trump’s overture of Wednesday showed signs of de-escalating tensions with Iran.
Trump announced new sanctions on Iran in a nine-minute televised address while touting the power of US armed forces. However, it was interesting to note that Trump’s address did not mention a direct threat to respond militarily to Iran’s attack on Iraq. It was in response to a US drone attack that killed General Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian General.
Signs of climb-down
US officials speaking anonymously believe that the intention behind Iran’s attack on Iraq was more about sending a message than killing US troops. It appears that the firing aimed at unpopulated bases where significant damage was most unlikely. However, according to the Associated Press, the Joint Chief of Staffs, Army General Mark Milley, refuted the notion that Iran deliberately tried to minimize damages. He also told reporters that he believed in Iran’s intention of killing US military personnel. After the missile attack, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a tweet. It described the attacks as a measure in self-defence. He went on to write that Iran’s intention was to defend itself and not seek an escalation of the war.
The threat was real
Despite both countries trying to dilute the possibilities of escalating war, the threat of the attack was quite real. The Assad airbase in Western Iraq, which as one of the targets of the attack had 1500 US, Iraqi. Coalition troops were present at the time of the attack. Earlier in September, Iran demonstrated its lethal striking capabilities on targets. The precision drone and missile strikes by forces with backing from Iran have badly damaged Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. A US official who is aware of the Iranian capabilities said that the Iranians know how to hit a target when they want to destroy it, and such an attack would have caused widespread damage.
Restraint is apparent
The limited damage caused by the attacks makes US officials believe that the attack was designed to show a domestic audience how Iran responded to the killing of General Soleimani. Iran has also repeatedly demanded that the US troops leave Iraq. A senior member of the Capitol Hill said that the intention of not inflicting major damage was evident from Iran’s choice of targets. More moderate forces in Iran may be pushing the Iranian government for restraint.
Lawmakers express relief
That Trump did not order any more military action is a relief for lawmakers in Capitol Hill. It held hopes of finding a resolution now that there has not been any further escalation. It is despite the situation remaining volatile.
A close ally of the president Senator Lindsay Graham said that the Iranian people should listen to Trump’s words. It avails the chance that Trump has given for peace and prosperity. Trump said that the US was ready to embrace peace with all those who seek it.