US-IRAN Tensions: All the latest updates.

US-IRAN Tensions: All the latest updates.

Tensions rise as US hits Iran with more sanctions following Tehran’s retaliatory attack in Iraq after Soleimani killing.

Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone attack near Baghdad on January 3. Prompting Iran to retaliate with a series of missile attacks on US facilities in Iraq several days later.

Fears of imminent war between Iran and the United States have since subsided. Somewhat after US President Donald Trump appeared to shy away from a direct military response to the Iranian missile attack.

Trump believes Iran was targeting four US embassies. “We will tell you it was probably going to be the embassy in Baghdad.”

A Trump-ordered US airstrike in Iraq has killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s paramilitary forces. The blowback may be huge, and much depends on how well prepared the United States is for Iran’s response and that of its many proxies in the Middle East.

Iran’s retaliation.

In furious retaliation, Iran launched rockets on US air bases in Iraq. The drone strike came days after protesters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad, clashing with US forces at the scene.

The limited Iranian response, which caused no casualties, appeared to be mainly a show of force. And de-escalated tensions that had threatened to turn Iraq into a proxy battlefield amid increasing fears of all-out war.

Iran’s missile attacks on two  Iraqi bases housing US troops was just the beginning of actions that would be taken in response to the US’s killing of Soleimani.

“The Americans must remove their bases, soldiers, officers and ships from our region. They should leave,” said Hassan Nasrallah.

Current scenario.

The current round of nonsensical escalation with Iran is deeply counterproductive to broader U.S. interests. And even goes against many of this administration’s stated global priorities.

For China, the prospect of a new American quagmire in the Middle East by way of a potential war in Iran presents both a troubling prospect and an intriguing opportunity.

Over the longer term, a US-Iran conflict would be devastating to the United States’ ability to sustain power projection in the Asia-Pacific theater.

It would also put an end to the U.S. Department of Defense’s exhortation in last year’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report that the Asian region was the Trump administration’s “priority theater”.

The current US-Iran crisis might also give Beijing an opportunity to step up its appearance of global leadership. Traditionally, China has kept a low profile internationally during major crises. But increasingly, Beijing is speaking out – often by partnering with Russia over shared interests.

The current crisis in West Asia hangs by a fine balance —and held by the stability of oil prices. That alone makes it possible for several countries like India to hold their nerve for the time being.

After the initial shock, the prices have held. Much to the relief of big importers like India, Japan, and South Korea.

Following Iran’s missile strikes, the United States has not chosen to respond for now. If good sense and reason somehow prevail against all odds, then the crisis might end here. Washington and Tehran might somehow find a way to deescalate. Also to perhaps even begin to address their differences on either side of a negotiating table.

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