Iran's attacks could be a chance to deescalate tensions: Ex-diplomat

Iran’s attacks could be a chance to deescalate tensions: Ex-diplomat

Anti-war activist protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 4, 2020.

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There might be an opportunity for the U.S. and Iran to take tensions down a notch after the latest Iranian strikes on Iraqi bases housing American troops, said a former U.S. ambassador on Wednesday.

“It all depends on what turns out to have been the damage or any potential casualties,” Richard Schmierer, U.S. ambassador to Oman from 2009 to 2012, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.”

“And so this might be the opportunity — in the absence of casualties — for the two sides to now say: ‘okay we have each done something, we can stand down,'” said Schmierer, who is currently chairman of the board of directors at the Middle East Policy Council.

Early Wednesday morning local time, Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles aimed at Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops. It came less than a week after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike in Baghdad that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, who led the foreign operations wing of the elite paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Tehran had vowed to retaliate.

Schmierer said that Iran’s attacks on the Iraqi bases was “a very serious military undertaking” that showed Tehran “can reach American forces in the region.” That could deter Trump from further flaming tensions with Iran, the ambassador said.

“Going forward, that might cause President Trump to be less willing to take the kinds of steps that he took last week,” he added.

Trump responded in a tweet hours after the attack that “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq.” He said the U.S. was assessing casualties and damages.

“So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!” he added.

That Twitter post suggested that Trump may be prepared to deescalate tensions with Iran, especially if there are no casualties from the strikes, said Schmierer.

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