Contentious Implications Of U.S.-Iran Tensions In The Middle East

The striking tension between the U.S. and Iran appears to have abated, with both rivals seemingly withdrawing from the brick of conflict and war, but friction still remains intense. Thus, the confrontation between the two states is far from over. According to U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, “Iran appears to be standing down after its missiles attack on U.S. air bases in Iraq in retaliation to the assassination of Iranian military leader.” The U.S. in the meanwhile has also promised to increase sanctions against Iran as a strategic plan to it change its behavior. The threat from U.S. sanctions has made it difficult to discern how both countries can break out from the obstinate confrontation.

Apparently, the U.S.-Iran relationship has drastically deteriorated and tensions may escalate following the recent missile attack on two U.S. military airbases in Iraq following the U.S.’ assassination of Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani. According to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, “Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge for this gruesome crime from criminal America.” Iran’s immediate retaliation was presumably an attempt to secure its regional goal to expel all U.S. forces out of the region. Significantly, the assassination has undermined U.S. influence and position in the region.

The ruthless assassination has stirred up intense discussion on whether the assassination of Iran’s military commander Qasem Soleimani was legally justified. According to President Trump, “the United States military executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qassem Soleimani as Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American people in Iraq and throughout the region.” On the contrary, Prime Minister Iraq Adel Abdul Mahdi said the missile strike was a “brazen violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a blatant attack on the nation’s dignity.”

Since the assassination, the U.S. has rapidly increased additional troops in the Middle East to prevent retaliation from the Islamic State. According to Aljazeera, “The United States is sending nearly 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East as a precaution amid rising threats to American forces in the region.” The deployment of additional troops reflects the rising changing relationship between Washington and Tehran as a consequence of the assassination.  President Trump has continued to insist that, “The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

The U.S. and Iran have descended into continuous tensions since the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from Nuclear Deal in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions against Iran, which led to Iran’s economic recession. The recent offensive strike from Iran was the most direct assault on the U.S. since it seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. The missile attack has stirred up concerns from the international community to called for an end to the conflict. According to BBC news, “The European Commission called for an immediate end to the use of weapons in the Middle East conflict amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, urging efforts to restart dialogue.”

The U.S. House of Representative on Thursday voted to constrain the ability of President Trump from triggering military action against Iran by approving an unbinding resolution. According to Aljazeera, “The United States House of Representatives approved a nonbinding resolution aimed at reining in the president’s ability to attack Iran in the future without congressional approval.” The House’s nonbinding resolution is intended to curtail the military operations of President Trump against Iran except in the circumstances of self-defense, as they felt that the decision to assassinate Soleimani was “provocative and disproportionate.” Thus, the resolution hopes to prevent President Trump from direct engaging in hostilities against Iran in the future.

The tension in the Middle East significantly rose following a series of adversities,  and many analysts in the international politic have said, “[The] U.S. appears to be crossing the line put forth in the 1973 War Powers Act, by risking a major escalation with Iran.” On the other hand, the capabilities of Iran to fight back either within the region or through terrorist attacks outweigh Iraq’s in 2003, and concerns of peace and security in the Middle East have heightened significantly within the international community. Therefore, the U.S. and Iranian Presidents should seek to use diplomatic dialogue to resolve the current tension rather than using force.