Trump Opts for Sanctions vs Military Action Against Iran
- US and Iran appeared to stand down from further escalating the conflict
- Trump called for a new nuclear pact with Iran but threatened more sanctions
- Iranian military responded with threats of more attacks
Early Thursday, the situation between the United States and Iran seemed to calm. Both sides stated they would not pursue further military action.
However, when US President Trump called for a new nuclear agreement, Iran proved less than cooperative. Instead, according to Reuters, Iran’s military commanders threatened “harsher revenge soon.”
Iran retaliates for the death of Soleimani
On Wednesday, Iran conducted a series of missile strikes against Iraqi military bases where US troops were stationed. According to Trump, though, no US troops were harmed, and Iran seemed to back off.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, stated that Tehran didn’t want to escalate the conflict. The missile strikes would be the last of their retaliation.
President Trump also chose not to take further military action. He said, “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it.” This eased concerns over a more serious conflict in the region.
Despite this, Trump has been criticized by the Democrats for being reckless in the relationship with Iran. The situation between the US and Iran started deteriorating in 2018. At the time, Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear pact and imposed economic sanctions on Iran. These sanctions have negatively affected Iran’s oil exports and put a lot of pressure on their economy.
Trump pushes for new nuclear pact, threatens sanctions
US President Trump stated that it was time to replace the 2015 nuclear agreement with a new pact. This new deal should let Iran “thrive and prosper.” However, he went on to say that the US would place even harsher sanctions on Iran. He did not provide details.
Iran’s Ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi, stated that as long as Trump threatened further “economic terrorism” through more sanctions, any dialogue couldn’t be trusted.
The Revolutionary Guards of Iran threatened Washington, in complete contrast to the Foreign Minister’s position. One commander warned of “harsher revenge soon”, while another said the missile strikes were only the beginning.
Brigadier-General Esmail Ghaani replaced Qassem Soleimani as the head of the Quds Force. The latter deals with Iranian military operations on foreign soil. Ghaani stated that he would continue Soleimani’s legacy, pursuing the same course. “We will continue in this luminous path with power,” he said.
Soleimani expanded Iranian influence throughout Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. He was a national hero and massive crowds attended his funeral.
Iran more likely to retaliate indirectly
Experts believe Iran is unlikely to engage in a traditional war with the United States. They may, however, seek the support of their allies and take indirect action, according to Ali Alfoneh. The senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington stated a solution can be negotiated.
He said, “…the Trump administration does not appear to actively pursue war and Iran needs sanctions relief.”
According to US Vice President Mike Pence, it appears Iran is asking its allies not to retaliate against the US. Furthermore, sources in the US and European governments think that Iran deliberately tried to avoid US casualties in its missile strikes.
Even those opposed to the presence of US troops in Iraq are speaking out to attempt to calm the situation. Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shi’ite cleric with a wide sphere of influence, said the crisis had ended and that Iraqi factions should be “deliberate, patient, and not to start military actions.”
Despite the indications that Iran will not retaliate further, Pence said the US would continue to be vigilant.