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Iran’s Retaliatory Attacks on US

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January 09, 2020
7 months

Why in news?

Iran launched ballistic missile attacks at American troops in two military bases in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani.

What happened?

  • Iran targeted Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan in the north.
  • Al-Asad in the west, which is some 400 km away from the Iranian border, also faced attacks.
  • The attacks were both an act of retaliation and a show of its capability.
  • It is the first direct attack on U.S. forces by Iran in the current round of tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

What is Iran’s rationale?

  • Foreign Minister Javad Zarif invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter.
  • It allows member-states to take military actions in self-defence if they come under attack.
  • He said Iran has taken and concluded “proportionate measures in self-defence”.
  • This can thus be interpreted that Iran is now ready for de-escalation.
  • The U.S.’s decision to kill Soleimani was practically an act of war, forcing the Islamic regime to respond.
  • Iranian military leaders and hard-line politicians issued wide range of rhetoric on retaliation.
  • However, despite these, what Tehran actually did was to launch a calculated, limited strike.
  • It is as much an act of revenge as an opportunity for de-escalation.

What was U.S.’s response?

  • There were no American casualties, and only minimal damage was caused in the attacks.
  • Mr. Trump, in his response, has signalled that he was backing away from further conflicts with Iran.
  • If the U.S. had responded with air strikes or missile attacks inside Iran, it could have triggered further attacks from Iran.
  • This would have set off a cycle of violence and aggression.
  • A direct shooting match between the U.S. and Iran would have been disastrous for the whole of West Asia.

What is the significance?

  • Iran may be a weaker power compared to America’s conventional military might, but it is a formidable rival.
  • It not only has ballistic missiles and a wide range of rockets but also a host of militias under its command across the region.
  • It could have made an invasion and air strikes on its territories extremely costly for the U.S. and its allies.
  • It could also have disrupted global oil supply by attacking the Gulf waterways.
  • By any assessment, a direct war would have been catastrophic.
  • Fortunately, Mr. Trump did well to step back and not push the Gulf region into a disastrous cycle of violence and destruction.

What is the way forward?

  • The international community should now push for a diplomatic settlement of the crisis.
  • It must find ways to revive the nuclear deal which could bring long-term peace to the Gulf.
  • Also, Iran should seize this opportunity for de-escalation.


Source: The Hindu

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