In potential revenge for last week’s air attacks against Iran-aligned forces, Iran targeted US forces in Syria last weekend. The attacks had no human casualties.
Al Omar oil field has been the center of new round of proxy tensions between Tehran and Washington. Located in Deir al Zor, am eastern province in Syria, the region is under the control of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). SDF is under the unofficial patronage of US forces in Syrian battlefield.
The new wave of face-offs highlighted the dangers of intensification and the constraints in US armed might in confrontation with Iran-aligned militias. The United States holds Iran-aligned forces accountable for a string of more complex UAV operations in Iraq targeting US soldiers and installations.
The cycle of retaliations between the two sides may turn to a dead end accelerating the spike of regional tensions. US has retaliated the Iranian retaliation in what seems to promise another bloody round of tensions between the Iran-aligned forces and US-aligned forces.
Attack for Tension Reduction
Days before Iran-aligned forces strike US positions in Syria, Washington assaulted Tehran’s position. US officials claimed the attacks aimed at containing the escalation of tensions.
As US secretary of state claimed, “we took necessary, appropriate, deliberate action that is designed to limit the risk of escalation, but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.”
Iraqi administration denounced the US airstrikes on its soil. The administration stated it would “examine all legal measures” to prevent further such actions by the United States. Syrian officials also dubbed the assaults against Iran-aligned forces as “flagrant breach of the sanctity of Syrian and Iraqi territory”.
Iraqi military also released a statement condemning the US assault. The Iraqi and US forces worked together to combat remnants of ISIS forces scattered across the country.
Biden’s administration has authorized another retaliatory attacks on Iran-aligned forces early in 2021. He approved targeted operations in Syria in retaliation for assaults in Iraq.
According to unofficial sources, Iranian proxies have launched more than five drone assaults in Iraq on US sites. The number only includes the attacks since April.
US officials believe the current tensions with Iran will not comprise a lasting clash with the country. Brian Finucane, a former official with the Office of the Legal Adviser at the State Department, analogized the current tensions with a “Salami slice” ending on the occasion.
Finucane, currently a contributor at International Crisis Group, says “they would characterize these as intermittent hostilities. We had one strike back in February and then the 60-day War Powers clock essentially was reset.”
The tension between Iran-aligned forces and US military spiked in Iraq after the assassination of Major General Soleimani in Baghdad airport. Trump directly ordered the attack, as did Biden recently.
Other than forcing out the US military forces from the region, Iran-aligned forces have other motivations for the face-off with Washington. The attacks clearly send a message about the military competence and the logistic power if resistance forces to the US and local administration.
US attack has put its military forces in a weak position. “In quantity and quality, Iran-aligned forces’ attacks on coalition points of presence in Iraq are increasing. Unless deterrence is restored, U.S. fatalities are increasingly likely.”
US Congress is attempting to revoke some of the war authorizations upheld by presidents. Biden, Trump, and their predecessors used the authorization to justify assaults in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. The congress means to control the unexpected and non-expertised orders by the US.
The US movements in the battlefield in Iraq and Syria has also debilitated its leverages in other scenes. Joe Biden seeks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal through the ongoing negotiations. The expansion of regional tensions and weakened position in the Middle East, along with drawbacks by some traditional allies like Saudi Arabia, may force Washington into an undesirable deal.