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Editorial: U.S.-Iran exchange of hard-line threats must end to resolve conflict

  • January 7, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 7:35 p.m.
  • English Press

Tensions between the United States and Iran have become even more intense. The leaders of the two nations are competing with each other in threatening to take hard-line measures and use armed force against one another. Both must regain calm and pave the way to resolving the conflict.


The aggravated conflict was triggered when U.S. forces killed military commander Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards through an airstrike.


A military unit led by the commander has striven to train and assist pro-Iran armed groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, thereby supporting Iran’s efforts to expand its influence in the Middle East. The killing of the commander during his activities in Iraq has illustrated the importance of his role in that respect.


At the end of last year, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq was attacked by demonstrators. A military base in which U.S. forces were stationed was assaulted, with Americans killed or wounded in that incident. The U.S. concern that if the situation is left as it is, it would cause greater harm to U.S. soldiers and diplomats in Iraq is understandable.


U.S. President Donald Trump said he ordered the operation to kill the commander, emphasizing the legitimacy of his action by describing the commander as a “terrorist ringleader.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went along with Trump when he said “we will not lament” the commander’s death, while French President Emmanuel Macron expressed solidarity with the United States.


The problem is how much Trump perceived the risk of fanning anti-American sentiment in Iran and Iraq and exacerbating the situation. He has opened himself to criticism if, with the U.S. presidential election set for November, he placed priority on attempting to show the people that he is a strong president.


In reaction to the Iraqi parliament’s adoption of a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces, Trump has warned of imposing sanctions on Iraq.


The deterioration in the U.S.-Iraq relationship and the U.S. military’s withdrawal will only benefit Iran. Trump has a responsibility to rebuild relations with Iraq and present a comprehensive strategy for stabilizing the Middle East.


In response to the killing of the commander, whom the Iranian people hero-worshiped, the Iranian leadership has clearly stated it will retaliate against the United States. There is the possibility that Iran will use armed groups supported by the Revolutionary Guards, among others, and attack U.S. troops deployed in the Middle East.


A chain of retaliation will escalate the situation, which could lead to contingent clashes. As a regional power, Iran should restrain itself from acting to destabilize the circumstances. There should never be a situation in which civilian ships are targeted and their safety threatened in the Strait of Hormuz.


There is no overlooking the fact that Iran has declared it will conduct its uranium enrichment without restrictions, refusing to comply with the 2015 nuclear agreement. If Iran starts developing nuclear weapons, it will be further isolated.


The turmoil in the Middle East will cause a rise in crude oil prices, adversely affecting the global economy. All pertinent nations, including Japan, should perceive the seriousness of the situation and strive to end the current circumstances.

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