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Editorial: US, Iran must show restraint to alleviate tensions

  • January 7, 2020
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump has killed the top commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force in a drone airstrike in Iraq, inevitably raising tensions in the Persian Gulf region. The United States claims that the top general, Qasem Soleimani, was preparing for attacks on American personnel.

Iran immediately declared it would retaliate militarily, and announced that it would entirely suspend its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, indicating that the country will move ahead with the unlimited enrichment of uranium.


President Trump has threatened to counter if Iran unleashes retaliatory attacks, throwing the region into a highly volatile flashpoint.


The United States primarily is responsible for creating the status quo by taking haphazard military actions. Washington is urged to exercise self-restraint and work toward easing tensions between the two countries.


The Trump administration has justified its killing of the top Iranian commander as an act of self-defense against an imminent threat. However, it has not made clear what exactly that threat was. It is only natural for Congress to raise questions about the legal grounds for the lethal attack.


Iraq sharply reacted to the U.S. drone strike, denouncing it as a breach of its sovereignty. The Iraqi parliament has demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. If the U.S. military had used force without approval from Baghdad, it raises suspicions that Washington violated international law.


Above all else, what was most problematic was Trump’s apparently myopic decision-making. According to the U.S. media, the attack on Soleimani was ordered by Trump after he got furious as he watched footage of pro-Iranian demonstrators assaulting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in late December.


As Trump had earlier forgone the option of killing the top Iranian general, his decision is said to have sent shockwaves throughout the U.S. Department of Defense. Some speculate that Trump turned to the ultimate option in a bid to distract public attention from impeachment charges against him over the Ukraine allegations.


The Trump administration’s decision to send an additional 3,000 troops to the Middle East, as well as to include Iran’s culturally significant facilities in a set of targets for U.S. counterattacks, could rather fuel anti-American sentiment. Questions remain as to whether the decision was a strategic one based on measured judgment.


Tensions in the Middle East must not be heightened any further. Washington should move to resolve the situation diplomatically.


Iran, too, should respond to the circumstances in a level-headed manner. If it was to blockade the Strait of Hormuz or launch military attacks on Israel and other U.S. allies, then the Middle East could be thrown into chaos.


If Iran is to charge ahead with full-scale nuclear weapons development, China and Russia, which are both critical of the U.S., would also distance themselves from Tehran. Iran should not be creating a situation where it gets isolated from the rest of the world.


Japan is reportedly set to dispatch a destroyer to the Middle East for information-gathering operations as scheduled. Yet what should be given the first and foremost priority are efforts to urge both the U.S. and Iran to exercise restraint in order to alleviate their tensions.

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