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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 ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad-based Think-Tank says the Middle East (ME) peace plan presented by US President Donald Trump will have a negative impact on Kashmir issue.

A concept paper issued by Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) states that US president’s plan for ME legalises state terrorism, brutal suppression and demography change by Israel and the same was being carried out by India in held Kashmir.

CPGS President Nasir Sheerazi said the US patronage had already encouraged the incumbent Indian government to give constitutional cover to their illegal occupation of Kashmir.

“Only two countries, Israel and India, behave in this manner in occupied Palestine and occupied Kashmir respectively,” Mr Sheerazi said.The concept paper highlighted that Pakistan’s stance on Palestine conflict had been clear from the beginning.

“Pakistan does not recognise Israel and has always been vocal for the rights of Palestinians and public sentiments in Pakistan have always been with the people of Palestine,” the paper said.

Support for Palestinian cause is deeply rooted in the ideological basis of Pakistan as it was with the Kashmir issue.

CPGS said like Palestine, Kashmir is also under illegal foreign occupation.

The paper said Pakistan had never conceded Indian claim on occupied Kashmir, and it did not recognise Israel as a state.

Pakistan has always reiterated that it supported a two-state solution to Palestine conflict as conceded by multiple UN resolutions.

The CPGS slammed the recent move by US president saying the so-called “Deal of Century” has the potential of initiating political crisis leading to diplomatic failure and violence.

The paper said that pro-US bloc in Middle East will be weakened because peace plan will be represented as a historic compromise. “It will invite chaos and disorder in population of Middle East even if the governments choose to support the plan,” it added.

CPGS president said taking recent history of Middle East into account, public pressure does not sit well with regimes in Muslim world and chaos becomes inevitable in the region.

The Palestinian cause was taken by Muslims as a religious issue and a large number of civil activists consider it a humanitarian issue; similar situation was visible in Kashmir and the conditions could open doors to repetition of violence and conflicts.

Same version of this Article is published in Dawn News

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