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Thursday, October 1, 2020

No room for miscalculation amid US-Iran tensions

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The events unfolding in the aftermath of the killing of the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump are still reverberating throughout this region.

And even though Qasim Soleimani was killed late on Thursday night near Baghdad International Airport, days later, the consequential impact of that event is still being carefully assessed.

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There is no doubt, however, that Soleimani’s killing has greatly increased tensions between Washington and Tehran and, with the funeral rites for the late general still underway in Iran, there can be little doubt that the levels of emotional rhetoric will be heightened.

Now is the time for calmness, contemplation and consideration. It is a time to de-escalate and act very carefully indeed knowing that any ill-timed move or ill-advised action may very well be misinterpreted, miscalculated or miscommunicated.
Indeed, over the last few days, that rhetoric and calls for revenge and death to America — and tweets from the Oval Office citing 52 Iranian sites as potential targets — have further increased tensions. And emotions.

But now is not the time for an emotional reaction. Right now, the crisis has pushed the Gulf region to a tipping point, one that could have very severe repercussions for all partners and players in this region, the wider Middle East — and beyond.

Now is the time for calmness, contemplation and consideration. It is a time to de-escalate and act very carefully indeed knowing that any ill-timed move or ill-advised action may very well be misinterpreted, miscalculated or miscommunicated. And right now, there is little, if any, room for misjudgment.

This past decade has been difficult for the wider region and there are still forces of conflict at work in Syria, where a bloody civil war has yet to be resolved, in Libya where Arabs themselves can only bring a lasting solution, and in Yemen where hundreds of thousands rely on humanitarian aid from the actions precipitated by Al Houthi rebels.

Over the past six months, we have seen increased tensions in the immediate Gulf region after attacks on maritime vessels and oil production facilities. Lebanon too is in the midst of political turmoil. Now, the destabilisation of Iraq and the fallout from Soleimani’s killing is adding a critical new dimension to the tense geopolitics of this region.

There should be no doubt now that the way forward must be one where coolness and calmness are the watchwords. There is no room for error or a rush to judgment.

As Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, noted in a recent tweet: “It is necessary to put wisdom, balance and political solutions above confrontation and escalation.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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