GP Insights # 86, 22 June 2019
President Donald Trump approved a military strike against Iran but pulled back from launching the late-night. US officials awaited the strike after long discussions and briefing had taken place. When the operation was in progress, with ships and planes in position, the order to stand down came ten minutes before the attack. Trump later tweeted that the attack would have probably killed about 150 people to which he believed would not be proportionate to the shooting down of an unmanned drone. He also went on to add that Iran can never have nuclear weapons and that he is going to increase the sanctions on Iran further. Earlier, Iran shot down a US military drone.
Iran responded by saying that the US has no reason to retaliate back and if they did, they would respond firmly.
What is the background?
Tensions have been escalating between Washington and Tehran over the past month drastically; both countries have accused each other of several activities. The US accused Iran of continued damaging activity that threatens the US and its allies. This has also caused Washington to increased its military presence in the region.
During this week, tensions escalated substantially when Iran had shot down a US drone on 20 June 2019. The RQ-4 Global Hawk drone, according to Iran, was targeted when it entered Iran's airspace. General Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, said that this was done to send a clear message to the US, further stating that Iran does not have any intention for War with any country, but they are nevertheless ready for the War. The US responded to these claims by saying that they had not violated Iranian airspace and the US president Donald Trump has made a statement saying that this was a very bad mistake made by the Iranians.
There have been a series of clashes in the region during the recent weeks. The attack on oil tankers allegedly by Iran has raised tension in the Gulf. The US has gone on to assert that Iran was behind the attacks; the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that they had substantial evidence to prove their claims. Although the US allies initially did not consider the claims made by the US, many of them throughout the week have gone on to issue statements about the issue.
What does it mean?
The constant increase of tensions in the Gulf is an unpredictable situation which could have many implications. An outbreak of War in this region would not only have drastic effects on the region, but it would inevitably impact the whole world. Iran is already facing problems because of the crippling sanction that has been imposed on them and fighting a war would only lead to further problems.
When it comes to the immediate regions, Saudi Arabia has gone on to state that they will look into all aspects to counter the hostile situation with Iran. With other on-going conflicts already existing in this region, this pushes the region into greater hostility.
When it comes to the other signatories of the deal, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union, have been unable to ease the tension with Iran. Whether or not they have the capability to do so or if they are still obligated to side with the US who is not part of the deal anymore remains a question.
Trump however still remains to hold the view on not wanting a war with Iran, though the halting of a military attack (to the attack on the US drone by Iran) shows that he is seeking to escalate this issue politically rather than militarily. However, de-escalation of the situation needs to take place in the Gulf, for the world is already facing the brunt of it through the rise in oil prices.
Abigail Fernandez is currently a final year MA student at Stella Maris College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.