The Debate

Enough to save face? Iran, US de-escalate but region remains on edge

By: François PICARD Follow | Juliette LAURAIN
46 min

The United States is dialling back threats of further military retaliation against Tehran after missiles fired at coalition air bases in Iraq failed to inflict casualties. They even appear to have even been forewarned. Donald Trump can brag that he took out Qassem Soleimani, the face of Iranian external operations, with limited consequences so far.


Iran can boast that it flexed its muscle by firing weapons directly from home soil and moreover - with huge crowds rallying around the flag for the funeral of Soleimani - appears for now to have turned the page of last month's flare-up of internal dissent and the bloody crackdown against fuel hike protests. A fleeting moment, or new wind in the sails of the regime?

But it is about more than the future of US-Iran relations: as Wednesday's missile attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad show, Iraq is in the middle. Its neighbours are also in the firing line, which brings us back to Donald Trump.

Were his warnings that the US no longer depends on Middle East oil and that NATO should pick up the slack in the region mere campaign rhetoric ahead of his re-election bid, or part of a serious pivot? If so, what is Europe going to do about it?

Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain and Jimena Morales-Velasco. 

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