Just hours ago, Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles at Erbil and Ain Al-Asad Air Bases, both of which are located in Iraq under U.S. control. At the time that this article is published, we are unsure of how many casualties that this strike may have caused, though we know that the bases contained fewer soldiers than usual and were also poorly defended. Coming mere hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned Americans to prepare for consequences, the missiles were launched as a direct response to the murder of General Soleimani in an operation aptly named “Operation Martyr Soleimani.” Not knowing the casualty count makes it difficult to anticipate President Trump’s response. If Americans were not harmed, there may still be a chance - to the delight of the global community - for him to work to reach a diplomatic solution. If there were Americans hurt in the strike, President Trump may feel as though there is no choice but to respond with aggression, which could quickly devolve into all-out warfare.
In the aftermath of the Soleimani assassination, policy analysts and citizens of the global community alike remained hopeful that Iran’s method of retaliation would be constrained to sanctions on resources or international condemnation of the United States’ actions. That optimism, unfortunately, has been dispelled with an immediately violent response from Tehran, rendering the conflict more pressing than many had imagined. Asian market indicators have slid within hours, foreshadowing the economic uncertainty that an escalation of this conflict will bring as parallels are drawn between it and some of the largest military conflicts of the 20th century.
President Trump’s proclamation over twitter that “all is well” in regards to the Iranian attack appears to be a facade more than truthful reassurance. Americans remain fearsome as they pray for their deployed loved one’s safety, and watch as thousands of brave soldiers flood airports across the country to begin active duty. We anxiously await further information on the status of the stationed Americans’ safety, as it will determine the future of Iranian-American relations.
The ball is now in President Trump’s court. He has the ability to de-escalate the situation, or take our country into war. Americans and Iranians alike now must await their fate: President Trump announced via Twitter that he would release a statement about the attacks today.
This article will be updated as new information is released.
Update, 5:15 PM
Earlier today, President Trump took to the podium to deliver an address to the American people amid international discomfort and deepening political rifts between Republicans and Democrats on how best to approach the situation with Iran. President Trump thankfully announced that there were no American casualties. After Iran’s post-airstrike explanation that they did not seek war, President Trump also added to his speech that Iran seems to be backing down. While this may bode well for the prospects of de-escalation of military conflict, the President’s address to the nation still leaves a sense of unease among careful listeners; Iran’s reluctance for military aggression shouldn’t be so easily construed as docility, as it is likely that Tehran will advance plans in the near future that contain subtler forms of retaliation - most likely economic. While military de-escalation sits on the horizon, geopolitical tensions between the two remains at greater heights than ever, with both countries posturing towards a more silent hostility.