Chaos ensued after January 3 when a U.S. drone strike killed Iran’s top military commander, General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The tension between the U.S. and Iran re-intensified this new year as Iran responded bitterly. These chain of events that unfolded leave citizens in the dark, leaving many thinking: where are we now?
Five days after the assassination of Soleimani, Iran retaliated. Iran launched missiles on two bases in Iraq where U.S. soldiers were stationed. According to PBS News, no casualties resulted. The same morning, a Ukranian airline airplane crashed after taking off from Iran. A U.S. official claimed Iran shot down the plane with two Russian missiles (PBS News). It wasn’t until January 11 that Iran admitted it had shot down the plane by mistake, sparking protests in Tehran against Iranian leaders.
The U.S. quickly responded with sanctions against Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared the new sanctions on Iran’s metal exports and eight senior Iranian officials. Following the airstrikes, the President of the U.S. also announced he would immediately impose additional economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. In addition, the U.S. Treasury blacklisted eight senior Iranian officials, including Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. “The United States is targeting senior Iranian officials for their involvement and complicity in Tuesday’s ballistic missile strikes,” Mnuchin said in a press release.
Since then, neither country has taken war-provoking action, but America remains defensive. U.S. and regional officials said that the Trump administration seeks to keep pressure on Iran without volatile confrontation. The officials are confident that Iran and its middle-eastern allies are looking to avoid war-like conflict. U.S. senior officials advise keeping a strong stance with continued economic sanctions. They also await European nations to reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran as well due to their clear violation of the nuclear-containment deal.
“The combination of maximum economic pressure and restoring deterrence by credible threat of military force, if attacked, is going to do more to advance peace and stability in the region than a policy of accommodation with the regime,” said Brian Hook, who oversees Trump administration policy toward Iran at the State Department. While each nation’s government may hold conflicting views on future plans, only time will tell in what direction these tensions will go.