Many users across social media — from military experts and pundits, to civilians with no professional insights on the matter — described concern on Tuesday evening that hostilities between Iran and the United States were increasing, with some believing that war between the two nations was inevitable.
Iran launched tens of ballistic missiles toward military bases in Iraq that housed American soldiers, CNN reported. The attack was retaliation for the assassination of a high-level military official from Iran that was ordered by President Donald Trump last week.
While many worried about what could happen next, Axios reporters Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan wrote that another outcome could be feasible from this point: de-escalation from both nations.
There didn’t seem to be any casualties from Iran’s attacks, the reporters noted, which could result in the Trump administration feeling no real need to retaliate for the latest round of aggression.
Signals from leaders of both nations seemed to indicate at least a passive desire for things to return to “normal” again. Trump on Tuesday evening did not sound alarmed by the missiles launch, tweeting out “All is well” in response to what went down.
Meanwhile, in Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also sent out a tweet, writing, “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense.”
My hypothesis on tonight:
-Iran knows every inch of Al-Asad and Erbil bases & knew US troops were secure; it purposely avoided them. Its short range missiles are precise enough to do that. Iran is fine with Iraqi casualties (it's happy to fight the US to the last Iraqi) (1/3)
— Thomas Juneau (@thomasjuneau) January 8, 2020
“We do not seek escalation or war,” Zarif added, “but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
According to Allen and Swan, the key word from Zarif’s tweet might be “concluded” — which may indicate the nation doesn’t want to engage in further military action.
Middle East security expert Thomas Juneau also hypothesized on Tuesday night that Iran’s targeting was purposely avoiding hitting human targets, efforts he said demonstrate that de-escalation is desired.
“Iran knows every inch of Al-Asad and Erbil bases & knew US troops were secure,” Juneau wrote, hypothesising that Tehran “purposely avoided” aiming for military personnel. “Its short range missiles are precise enough to do that.”