World News

US military strikes: impllications for the region and the world

Posted by: The Conversation

Date: Tuesday, 06 February 2024

President Joe Biden had signalled for days that the US would avenge a deadly drone attack at an American military base in Jordan. But when the retaliatory strikes came on Friday, they were, perhaps, more robust and widespread than many had expected: Dozens of sites were bombed across Iraq and Syria, and the targets included not only the group deemed responsible for the Jordan strike, but other militias that have become an irritant – and threat – to US interests in recent months.

The scope of the retaliatory strikes reflects the complex nature of the network of Iran-backed groups in the region, write Sara Harmouch and Nakissa Jahanbani. Many of the sites targeted by US bombers were linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - the body through which Tehran assists the region’s militias. The military op was also accompanied by fresh sanctions and criminal charges.

As Harmouch and Jahanbani note, “By targeting critical infrastructure such as command and control centers, intelligence operations and weapons storage facilities, the approach aims to undermine Iran’s ability to project power in Syria and Iraq. ”

At the same time, writes Gregory Treverton, a former chairman of the National Intelligence Council in the Obama administration, Biden “still appears to be trying to avoid further escalating the conflict.” By waiting a few days to respond, Iran was given time to get key personnel out of harm’s way – and none of the bombs landed in Iranian territory.

The question now is whether the US response has been sufficiently robust to discourage future attacks, while measured enough not to provoke a response from Iran.

Matt Williams

Senior International Editor

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