US airstrikes contain twin messages for Iran, US officials say | ET REALITY

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The U.S. strikes on two Iranian military munitions stockpiles in Syria on Friday were carefully designed, President Biden’s aides said, to send two distinct messages to Tehran.

The first was that if attacks on U.S. forces by Iranian proxies escalate, it would force the United States into the kind of open military confrontation with Iran that both nations have avoided since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

And the second was that if the attacks cease, both sides could retreat quietly, free to resume the simmering hostilities that have characterized the relationship in recent years.

It is the United States’ latest bid to modify Iran’s behavior, few of which have worked in the past. And now, against the backdrop of a new war in the Middle East, President Biden is signaling that Tehran’s best option is to stay away from getting involved. The primary goal, said White House spokesman John F. Kirby, is “to deter and prevent future attacks.”

Kirby added that the United States did not want an escalation: “No one is looking for a conflict with Iran.”

The U.S. strikes on a weapons storage facility and an ammunition storage facility, carried out by Air Force F-16 jets, were in response to rocket and drone attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria, which the Pentagon caused traumatic brain injuries to 19 soldiers. . While there have been US attacks before (including the January 2020 targeted assassination of Iran’s Quds Force chief General Qassem Soleimani), these attacks were intended as highly visible rejectionist speeches.

“These precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III it’s a statement. He quickly added that the United States “has no intention or desire to engage in further hostilities” if the Iranian-backed attacks cease.

(Later on Friday, Iran’s representatives launched an attack drone against US forces in western Iraq, but there were no injuries or damage to the ground, suggesting that relatively low-level skirmishes may continue.)

Biden approved the strikes after U.S. intelligence agencies assessed that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wanted to avoid a broader war with Israel or the United States, U.S. officials said.

But the Iranians wanted to do something to pressure the United States to rein in Israel and remind them of Tehran’s power, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. response, officials said, was calibrated to show strength, but not to escalate the situation or give hardliners an excuse to pressure Ayatollah Khamenei to lend support to a broader regional war, led by the Corps. of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Iran.

Kirby told reporters on Friday that the purpose “was to have a significant impact on future operations by the Iranian-backed militia group IRGC,” and that the attacks were aimed “at ammunition storage facilities and depots that we know will be used.” to support the work of these militia groups.”

However, it is far from clear whether these well-tuned messages are received as intended. Previous attempts to try to control Iran’s behavior have failed.

President Barack Obama reached a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 in hopes that it would begin a new era of modest cooperation between the two countries once Iran began reintegrating into the global economy. That never happened. President Donald J. Trump said exiting the deal would lead Iran to beg for a new deal because sanctions were breaking the country. That didn’t happen either.

When Biden took office, he attempted to restore the nuclear deal, which had largely contained Iran’s nuclear activity, international nuclear inspectors said, until Trump withdrew from it. After 18 months of negotiations, it appeared that a final deal was on the table, until the Iranians raised new demands and the deal fell apart.

Similarly, many of the roughly 1,500 U.S. and Western economic sanctions against Iran were aimed at stopping its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, the powerful militia in Lebanon. But both Democratic and Republican presidents have found that the strategy simply has not worked. And of late, Iran has been selling about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, a four-year high, with the vast majority of those shipments going to China.

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