There are many ominous developments feared in the aftermath of Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing in Baghdad last week. The recent one is the launch of reportedly 20 ballistic missiles by Iran at two US military bases located in Iraq. Considering it as an act of revenge for Soleiman’s assassination, Iran has claimed to have killed at least 80 US troops in the strikes while its Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei called the missiles strikes a “slap in the face” of the US, saying such military actions are not enough. The strikes also seem to be in reaction to US President Donald Trump’s brash threat to target “52 Iranian sites” important to the country and its culture. Another dreadful development has been Iran’s announcement that it will no longer abide by the restrictions placed on it by the 2015 nuclear deal, which had provided that Iran’s nuclear activities would be limited in exchange for reduced sanctions. However, the agreement is no longer binding, something that is not a good omen for the region and the globe.
These horrific happenings speak of the extremely dangerous territory the Washington-Tehran confrontation has entered into. Iran’s decision to end its commitments to the nuclear deal may give the Trump administration an excuse to up the ante against the Islamic Republic even more while hawks in Washington are already in pursuit of finding casus belli against Iran. These missile strikes are nothing less than giving them that excuse to unleash a dreadful war, which is detrimental to the parties involved and entails collateral damage for the region and neutral third parties. In all fairness to Iran, there is indeed great anger and sorrow in the country over Gen Soleimani’s assassination; however, in such dangerous times, Iran must act with prudence and foresight. With an already enfeebled economy, mostly due to US sanctions, Iran has been having its back was against the wall for a long time now and its Iraq attack can be interpreted a retaliation from a cornered enemy. At this juncture, the US and Iran should cease their hostilities, heed peaceful counsel and try to resolve the issues through dialogue because a full-blown war is in no one’s interest. Besides, the escalation of their tensions has already begun to hurt chances for peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirming that Iran has links to the Haqqani Network and Taliban and is working to undermine the peace process. But Afghanistan counsels the countries at each other’s throat to de-escalate the tensions and advocates for peace given the destruction it has endured due to its never-ending war. On their part, the world community and regional countries should strive to mediate, as well as censure Trump’s reckless comments about attacking religious or historical sites in Iran – something that translates into war crimes – and make the leader stop boasting and flexing its military might. Meanwhile, it’s advisable that Iran must resist this dangerous provocation and act with prudence while revisiting its departure from the nuclear deal.