The world awoke to the news of Iran firing a dozen ballistic missiles on US military bases in Iraq and fears grew about an imminent third world war as the two nuclear-capable nations come at loggerheads. While Iran claims that 80 “American Terrorists” were killed in the attack, the US refuted the claims as President Trump claimed “All is Well” on Twitter. In an unfortunate incident, a Ukraine International Airlines flight crashed immediately after taking off from Tehran, killing all the passengers on board of the ill-fated flight. To add to the chaos and the slew of suspicions arising from this, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake hit the country near its Bushehr nuclear plant.
The sequence of events have put Iran on the back-foot and the country’s foreign minister has made it clear that they want to de-escalate and do not seek war against the USA.
In the wee hours of Wednesday, Iran launched missile attacks on US-led forces in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing raised fears of a wider war in West Asia. Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from its territory against at least two Iraqi facilities hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel at about 1:30 am (2230 GMT on Tuesday), the US military said. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed they fired the missiles in retaliation for last week’s killing of Qassem Soleimani, according to a statement on state TV. The force advised the United States to withdraw its troops from the region to prevent more deaths and warned US allies including Israel not to allow attacks from their territories. Iranian television reported a senior official in the Iranian Supreme Leader’s office said the missile attacks were the “weakest” of several retaliation scenarios.
However, US President Donald Trump has come all guns blazing as he claimed on Twitter “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
While Iran and the USA come out with contradicting claims, Iraq, Iran and some Gulf countries have turned into a no-fly zone. India has “advised” its airlines to avoid overflying the airspace of Iran, Iraq and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) barred its carriers from doing so following Iran’s missile attacks on bases housing American troops in Iraq. A senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “held meetings with concerned airlines to sensitise them for remaining vigilant and taking all precautions, including avoiding” those areas.
A Boeing 737 belonging to the Ukraine International Airlines crashed due to technical problems soon after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport. All the 170-odd passengers are confirmed dead. Boeing 737 is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded for nearly 10 months following two deadly crashes. A number of 737-800 aircraft have been involved in deadly accidents over the years. 82 people from Iran, 63 from Canada, 11 from Ukraine and 10 from Sweden on the ill-fated plane. Video shows the plane was reduced to a fireball as it plunged on the ground. Engine fail or not, suspicions will not allow this event to be de-hyphenated from the ongoing conflict, especially as Iran refuses to hand over the black box of the plane found in the crash site to Boeing.
To further exacerbate the chaos, a natural, 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck Iran near the Bushehr nuclear plant Wednesday, reports said, stoking suspicions of a nuclear weapon test.
The Soleimani killing according to the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was a disproportionate attack. He even spoke of war crimes aimed by the USA when Trump threatened to destroy Iranian culture sites. The same country has for decades vowed to obliterate the USA and Israel. ‘Death to America, Israel and Saudi’ has been the normal cry. What’s abnormal is the responsible rhetoric employed by Iran post the American strike. It clearly shows that they want to de-escalate. Zarif defended the missile strikes saying Iran ‘took & concluded proportionate measures’ and was only acting in ‘self-defence’ when they struck back at the U.S.
Iran’s FM has also said that Iran will not seek escalation or war. The strikes in all probability was the only retaliation that Iran will resort to for Soleimani’s killing unless Trump decides to hit Iran again. Iran’s claim of killing American soldiers, refuted by the USA, shows that Iran may be trying to pacify its angry populace, and get the whole thing over with. They have indicated they do not want to escalate further if the USA keeps it down too. Therefore, there is no doubt that Iran has been put on the back-foot.
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