US-Iran Escalation in Middle East: Implications and Way Forward for Pakistan

US-Iran Escalation in Middle East: Implications and Way Forward for Pakistan

 

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies Islamabad (CPGS) organized a Round Table Conference at Islamabad on 10th January 2020, in the wake of rising tensions in Middle East after a series of skirmishes between Iran and the United States (US).

Middle East is on the verge of full scale war due to rising military tensions between Iran and the US following a series of events including limited use of weaponry and tirade of words . The gravity of issue forced the world leaders to speak out to defuse the tensions.

The US claimed that its bases and personnel in Iraq were being targeted by Iran backed militia, and an s attack on military base in Kirkuk had claimed life of a civilian US contractor and left a number of US troops wounded on 27th December 2019. In response, the US carried out airstrikes against the militia outfit on 29th December 2019 in the border region of Iraq and Syria. The deadly airstrikes left more than 20 persons dead and about 50 wounded.

In the follow up, the US accused Iran of orchestrating attacks on US facilities in Iraq while Iran denied its involvement in any such incident. However, on 31st December 2019 US embassy in Baghdad was stormed by the protesters chanting slogans in favor of the people killed in the US airstrikes earlier. Even though no loss of life was recorded at the event but it was enough to put US in the compromising position. Trump administration vowed to make Iran pay for the audacity while Iran once again denied the accusation and stated that the attack on US embassy was a reaction by people of Iraq.

In the gravity of events, on 3rd January 2020, a US drone strike killed General Soleimani of the elite Quds Force of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) when he was leaving the Baghdad airport in Iraq. Killing of General Soleimani pushed the relations of Iran and the US to the breaking point. The action was met with mixed response from allies and rivals of the US. Iran vowed to avenge the General’s death while President of the US Donald Trump reiterated time and again that retaliation from Iran will result in devastating consequences and even threatened to target the cultural center s of Iran.

On 8th January 2020, Iran launched ballistic missiles targeting the largest US military base in Ain al-Asad, and another in Erbil, in Iraq. In the follow-up, US denied any casualties and announced to impose further sanctions on Iran threatening that Iran will not be allowed to develop nuclear technology. The two countries refrained from further military engagement but the danger is still looming over the region.

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