Tensions Flare in Middle East after Iranian-backed Groups Fire on US Base in Syria
On March 23, missiles were fired from Iran that killed a US contractor who was present on a coalition base in the north-east of Syria. According to the Guardian, “it is not uncommon for Iranian-backed groups to fire missiles at US bases in Syria”.
The attack wounded fiveAmerican personnel and according to an article in the Guardian, the drones came from Iranian sources and the attack was carried out by pro-Iranian forces. The Guardian wrote that “the latest violence could further aggravate already strained relations between Washington and Tehran.” Recently, the Iranian finance minister has commented on the “surge of investment” arriving from Russia.
Alongside rising investment, relations between the Russian, Chinese and Iranian military seem only to be growing as evidenced by the announcement of joint military drills between the countries. It is unlikely that this budding relationship plays any role in the recent strikes between the US and Iran.
Joe Biden has made no mistake in declaring his commitment to protecting American troops stationed abroad, saying “be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people”. A Reuters article stated that US officials believed the attacks were sanctioned by Iran who see US military officials as “occupiers”.
The US launched retaliatory strikes on the Iranian forces over a two-day period from March 24 the next day. This follows on from Biden’s commitment to act forcefully when protecting US troops.
Furthermore, Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, stated that the strikes were a retaliation to “strikes on coalition forces” present in Syria. The US has been present in Syria since 2015, protecting the area against the Islamic State group. Recently, ITVNews reports that the US has roughly 900 troops present in the area working in tandem with Kurdish forces. As a result of the US attack, 19 individuals are reported to have been killed on Iranian linked military bases.
Iranian-backed fighters have warned the US to be on high-alert after their retaliatory strikes. The rising tensions threatened to “upend recent efforts that have been made to de-escalate the situation” in the Middle East. Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has said the “calm continues as Iran-backed militiamen are on alert for more strikes.”
It is unclear what the next few steps forward are for either side. According to Dareen Khalifa, a senior Syrian analyst has concluded that while “the risk of a retaliatory-cycle” is an easy outcome, it is unlikely the US will be “eager to escalate, instead responding with a much more measured approach.” Whether the Russian and Chinese governments weigh in on the strikes is a separate matter.
Despite the recent military cohesion between the states, it would be unlikely that either side would throw themselves into a direct confrontation with the United States and other NATO forces.
Edited by: Morgan Reitzel
Share This Post On
Leave a comment
You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in