Jan 8, 2020

Signs of respite with Iran despite Trump's red line

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

After Iran's launch of more than a dozen ballistic missiles last night at U.S. forces in Iraq, an initial search found zero American casualties, U.S. officials said.

Why it matters: Experts see that aftermath as a best-case scenario for de-escalation despite the fact that President Trump drew the brightest red line of his presidency when he tweeted a warning Saturday to Iran about hitting "American assets."

  • The lack of casualties could provide an off-ramp for Trump to declare victory and say the Iranians couldn't touch the U.S.
  • Iranians could claim they defended their honor.
  • Then everyone could walk away, and de-escalate.

A Pentagon statement on the strikes said: "It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil."

  • Trump tweeted Saturday that "if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets," the U.S. had targeted 52 Iranian sites that could be hit "VERY FAST AND VERY HARD."

The latest on Iran's retaliatory strike, via AP:

  • U.S. embassies and consulates from Asia to Africa and Europe issued security alerts for Americans.
  • The FAA warned of a “potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” for civilian aircraft in the Persian Gulf amid in an emergency flight restriction.
  • A Ukrainian airliner later burst into flames shortly after takeoff from Tehran, but officials said they believe a mechanical issue caused the crash, which occurred just hours after Iran's retaliatory strike.

Trump, who'll address the nation this morning, tweeted: "All is well!"

  • "Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!"
  • "We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!"

A hopeful signal from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who tweeted: "Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense ... We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."

  • Between the lines: "Concluded" is the key word.

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Trump says "all is well" after Iranian strikes on bases hosting U.S. troops

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Iran announced in a statement on Saturday (local time) that its military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed on Wednesday, killing all passengers aboard, according to multiple reports.

What they're saying, per the Iranian military's statement: The Boeing 737 jetliner operated by Ukrainian International Airlines “took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target” as it came close to an Iranian military base, and “under these circumstances, because of human error,” the plane “came under fire,” the New York Times writes.

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