Three days of mourning, a day to bury their martyr and then comes the perfect time to take first step of retaliation. Nothing happened that wasn’t being presumed.
The United States (US) was waiting to put sanctions on Iraq to continue maintaining their troop’s presence in the country, when Iran woke up to burst its imaginary bubble. On January 8, a significant escalation between the sworn rivals took place, as the Islamic Republic fired a series of ballistic missiles at two American military bases in Iraq housing the US troops.
Iran dared a direct attack, years after the seizing of US Embassy in Tehran in 1979, in wake of the American drone strike that killed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad. The death of a national hero to many Iranians left the country devastated and in boiling rage of taking revenge.
According to the US official, Tehran fired 15 missiles in the early hours of local morning time, on Wednesday, which majorly hit the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province with 10 missiles. America’s Ain al-Asad air base houses nearly 1,500 US and coalition forces. The American forces first used it after the 2003-US led invasion that overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein.
One of the missiles also hit the base in Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, while four failed. Although US didn’t report any causalities, the Iranian forces claimed that their ballistic missiles killed at least 80 American soldiers.
Shortly after the attacks, the US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to reassure his country that everything is fine, which appeared absurd to a greater global majority. He tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!”
However, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said “it’s not true”, and that Tehran did hit the United States “hard last night and DoD says they were aiming to kill us”.
On the other hand, Iranian Supreme Leader said that the attack was a “slap in the face” of the US. Moreover, he also stated that there is still more to be done to avenge Qasem Soleimani’s death and completely eradicate the US presence in the region.
Both the countries caught up in a rivalry in 2018, when America withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which has since been intensifying gradually. The assault killing Soleimani and the strikes by Tehran, both came as first direct attacks in recent years by the two countries, which by far battled through proxies in the Middle East.
After the Wednesday attack, Iran warned the United States against retaliating over the ballistic missiles attack. IRGC issued a warning through a state-run IRNA news agency. It stated, “We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted.”
However, it didn’t end there. The country that mourned Soleimani’s death for three days, burned down the US flags and repeatedly chanted “Death to America!”, has apparently satisfied itself partially with Wednesday’s twin attacks in Iraq. Where most of the countries are striving to prevent any war-like situation, the issue could escalate further.
Tehran also threatened a third wave of attacks against Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The NBC News Tehran bureau chief Ali Arouzi stated that if US retaliates again, “their 3rd wave will destroy Dubai and Haifa”.
NBC’s foreign chief correspondent Richard Engel also stated, “To attack more bases in Iraq. To unleash Hezbollah. To unleash Shiite militias in Iraq. To attack Israel and Dubai. Making it clear it is ready for a [widespread] campaign if this escalates further with a US response.”
The series of warnings, which the Islamic Republic has been throwing at the US, is making Donald Trump’s “All is well!” a way to calm himself of the consequences he didn’t think of earlier. The hastiness of his decision has left several other countries under Iran’s reckless threats.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned the US pilots and carriers over Iraq, Iran and Persian Gulf airspace. Moreover, tourists were warned to leave the gulf countries, including Iran, Iraq as well as the United Arab Emirates.
However, Iran’s warnings at least worked to stop the Trump administration from responding militarily. The President announced that he would “immediately impose additional powerful sanctions” on Tehran, which would remain in force “until Iran changes its behaviour”.
American journalist from Independent Andrew Feinberg noticed that Trump “appeared sedated”, “slurred” and “had trouble pronouncing words” in his speech on Wednesday morning.
America’s response appears wise, as the cloud of global threat of extensive geopolitical crisis that has been wandering over several countries from past five days could finally disperse. Despite that, the conflict between Iran and the United States might not come to an end anytime soon. The execution of the verbal warnings from the two sides is still uncertain.