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article imageOp-Ed: Tensions between Iran and US lessen after Iran's weak retaliation

By Ken Hanly     Jan 8, 2020 in Politics
US officials confirmed that they had advance notice Tuesday night before Iran launched missile strikes against two bases hosting US troops. This gave US troops time to take measures to limit or avoid casualties.
Iran gave Iraq advance notice
A recent article
claims that the US had an early warning system that gave time for troops to get out of harms way: "The extent of damage to the bases was not immediately clear, but early-warning defense systems gave U.S. forces advance knowledge that missiles had been launched, according to a U.S. official speaking to USA TODAY on the condition of anonymity."
However, Javad Zarif Iranian FM said that Iran had provided advance notice to the Iraqi government out of respect for Iraqi sovereignty. Iraq then informed the US allowing the US time to take measures to prevent casualties. There are also reports that the Iranians had been directly communicating to the US through a variety of sources including the Swiss embassy in Iran. The US was said to be assured that the base attacks would be the extent of the Iranian retaliation.
Trump's response
Trump claimed that there were no deaths or injuries resulting from the Iranian attacks. He said that Iran appeared to be "standing down". He announced no military reprisals for the attack. However, he also said that he would impose even more sanctions on Iran. Trump also managed to blame Obama for selling the missiles to Iran that were used in the attack.
Iran's limited response appears to be a signal lessening of tension
Both Trump and Zarif sent tweets that pointed to deescalation on Tuesday night. It would seem that Iran considered there response proportionate to the US assassination and the US could live with the attack since there were no casualties. Indeed it seems that perhaps the two countries were in agreement that the attack if limited could lead to the deescalation and reduction of tensions between the two opponents.
Iran may have been trying to assuage the anger of its own citizens without provoking the US. Some Iranian news sources reported casualties. The attacks allowed Iranians to claim to have responded to the US assassination but at the same time did not cause any casualties and perhaps not that much damage. Some of the missiles appear to have been duds and there are photos of what are said to be unexploded ballistic missiles.
The attack seems designed to be weak enough not to provoke a further military response from the US. However, the US has in effect responded by increasing sanctions part of its economic warfare on Iran. Some pro-Iranian militia in Iraq may find the Iranian retaliation too weak and continue attacks on US Iraq bases. There may still be considerable pressure for the US to withdraw from Iraq as demanded by a recent Iraqi parliament resolution.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about US Iran relations, Iranian attack on US bases, US in Iraq
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