After Retaliation, Iran’s 40-Year Conflict With U.S. Likely to Return to the Shadows

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أخر تحديث : jeudi 9 janvier 2020 - 6:10
After Retaliation, Iran’s 40-Year Conflict With U.S. Likely to Return to the Shadows

Now that Tehran and Washington have openly exchanged fire, the conflict between the two nations will continue in the shadows where it has been fought for 40 years — and where Iran’s Revolutionary Guard still seeks to exact revenge for the U.S. killing its top commander

But after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, Iran now knows that any attack that even its proxies launch could trigger another American strike. President Donald Trump’s backers say the raised stakes have restored “big stick” deterrence that American enemies and allies had begun to doubt after Trump failed to respond militarily to repeated Iranian aggression. His critics say he has ushered in a new era that makes every American a target for kidnapping and assassination across the Middle East, and beyond

Trump seemed satisfied on Wednesday that Tehran had learned its lesson, saying in a televised address that he was “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” after the overnight barrage of ballistic missiles fired harmlessly on U.S. bases in Iraq to avenge the U.S. drone strike that killed Soleimani

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the strikes a slap in America’s face and reiterated that his long term goal remains the ouster of U.S. forces from the region. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley told reporters he believed the Iranians intended to kill, but a senior U.S. official said Iran warned Washington via a European embassy ahead of the strikes, speaking anonymously to describe sensitive briefings

In addition, three U.S. officials said, the Iranians prepared for the strikes in ways that American spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping were sure to detect them — which U.S. intelligence did in time to give the White House and American forces some three hours warning of possible attacks and their probable targets

Iraqis on Al Asad Air Base even got a visit from a U.S. military officer before the attack, telling them when and where the missiles would land, said Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “This provided both sides an opportunity to de-escalate the conflict,” Alfoneah said. Both sides can declare victory and move forward

The State Department declined to comment on whether Iran had provided a heads-up before the strike, and the White House and defense officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters reported that an Iranian army spokesman denied “foreign media reports” suggesting there was some kind of coordination between Iran and the United States before the attack to evacuate bases

And while both nations appeared more than ready to walk back from the brink of war, the conditions on the ground remain as volatile as ever. American and Iranian-backed forces operate in close proximity at several flashpoints throughout the Middle East in places like Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, where a miscalculation or surprise attack could raise tensions again

The missile attack was a rare Iranian claim of responsibility that could be an attempt to distinguish it from retaliatory actions by its vast proxy network. Unable to combat the U.S. military head-on, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has spent decades organizing a constellation of Shi’ite militias across the tumultuous region. These proxy fighters, which are trained, supplied and funded by Tehran, give Iran an asymmetric advantage over the U.S. as well as plausible deniability for some attacks the groups carry out

We see this big public attack carried out by Iran, but that was a show of strength to send a signal and it also plays to their own domestic audience, says Phillip Smyth, a Shi’ite Islamist militarism expert and senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Iran’s preferred method of operation is to pick a time and place of their choosing, using the proxies that they want, in order to have the most effective response

By time.com

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