It is a strange yet somehow positive development that Iran’s airstrikes on Iraqi bases hosting US troops has had a sobering effect in terms of diffusing (for now) the real threat of an escalation of hostilities between the US and Iran. Though the Iranian strikes were a retaliatory action against the US for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, one of the most important figures in Iran, and despite Iran’s claim of 80 casualties (dismissed by the US), it was more a way of warning to the US and its allies of how things could go in case of further aggression from the US. President Trump’s rather cheerful reaction “All is well”—as, according to the US, there were no casualties—is indicative of the toning down of the aggressive stance he had taken against Iran, in both action and words, leading to very strong reactions from the Iranian side. In fact, the words exchanged between the leaders of the two countries left the world on tenterhooks wondering whether another major war was in the offing. Thankfully, for now, that seems to be on hold, or at least so we hope.
In fact, President Trump’s decision to kill the general on the pretext of the latter’s intention to harm Americans, a presumption that has not been backed by any credible evidence, has been the most capricious and, not to mention, dangerous one so far. Analysts are attributing it to a diversion from the US commander-in-chief’s impeachment process and his ambitions for a re-election. Whatever may have been the reason, this was a decision doomed to backfire, putting American lives in danger; it also threatens the lives of millions in the Middle East in case of a full-scale war. The frightening threats that followed from both sides go to show just how vulnerable the rest of the world has become because of the whimsical, short-sighted reactions of some of its leaders.
While Iran’s strikes may be considered more symbolic and less as an invitation to war, and Trump’s reaction more controlled, we cannot help but feel an unease about what will happen next. President Trump has played a dangerous game, one that threatens to disrupt the peace in the Middle East as well as the whole world. It is time for the international community to be united in doing everything possible to avoid any escalation of war which will only lead to the deaths of innocent lives and the destruction of nations.