Early in March 2021 the United States utilized two F-15 fighters to drop a total of seven precision bombs on a logistics center located just over the Syria-Iraq border that was believed to have been a checkpoint whereby weapons and Iranian-sponsored militia members are transported. The strike resulted in the death of one militia member with two others sustaining injuries.
The New York Times reports that this attack comes as a response to an Iranian missile strike in Erbil, Iraq that was targeted at United States coalition forces, which led to the death of a Filipino contractor as well as upwards of ten injured Americans.
President Biden and the United States remain steadfast that this attack was a diplomatically reached decision after consulting with the coalition affected, and as such sends, “an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel”, according to the New York Times.
These attacks come during a period where dialogue between Iran and the United States could have begun using the United Nations as a medium of free and open dialogue. With sanctions placed on Iran by America still taking their toll, perhaps Iran would have been more willing to open the floor to negotiations surrounding their nuclear policies and subsequently the Iran Nuclear Deal that Biden was involved with as the vice president years ago. However, Iran remains entrenched in the belief that the United States must repay for damages that the sanctions caused before opening the floor to discuss a possible nuclear deal. These strikes have more or less closed the door on any potential peaceful forum, at least for the time being. It remains apparent that Iran would like to continue tit-for-tat violence instead of reaching a diplomatic agreement, which if America continues to follow the same path could escalate into larger bombings and threats.
This American missile strike serves as the first known use of military force by the Biden administration which could set the precedent that his administration is not afraid to use bombings as retaliatory action to Iranian behavior. It also appears that this is only the beginning as Iran has stated that the death of top official Qassim Suleimani last year is the reason for the various bombings of American troops and coalitions.
Perhaps more alarming than the continuation of drone strikes and bombings in the Middle East, is Iran closing the door on the UN, taking formal and informal discussion on how to resolve the conflict off the table. While it is unlikely that America will pay any sort of reparation for the sanctions imposed, the United States needs to demonstrate behviour that would let Iran know a diplomatic solution is the preferred outcome for the Biden Administration, as opposed to sanctions and drone strikes. However, this would require Iran to cut back on military action and agree to terms on uranium enrichment, among other items that would be included in a revised nuclear deal.
Based on the continued violence between Iran and the new Biden administration it would appear that the two states remain in a standoff, waiting for the other to curb their behaviour first, before making any change on their own part. This is a zero-sum concept that will result in violence for years to come. As such, intervention by an organization, such as the UN, could prove beneficial in creating pressure on both sides to reach some sort of resolution. However, the UN lacks the hard power to force either state into a resolution and as such there is even more emphasis on America and Iran reaching some sort of resolution on their own.