US President Donald Trump meets the press in White House. File photo
President Donald Trump's order for airstrikes on a Tehran-backed Iraqi militia group, after resisting retaliating against Iran for months, sent a clear message on Sunday that killing Americans was his red line.
But experts warned that, far from being deterred, Iran might find that line signals there is space for them to continue the kind of provocative activities that fired up tensions across the Gulf region throughout 2019.
And with Trump facing a re-election fight in 2020, some said Tehran could even step up its actions to challenge the president's promise to pull US troops out of the Middle East.
US officials said on Monday that Trump had exercised "strategic patience" during the past year in the face of Iran's stepped-up military activities in the region challenging the US and its allies.
But they said that the death Friday of a US civilian contractor in Kirkuk in a rocket attack by the Hezbollah Brigades, an Iran-supported militia, forced Trump's hand.
At least 25 members of the group were killed in retaliatory US strikes Sunday on five of their bases in Iraq and Syria.
"The president has shown a lot of restraint," Brian Hook, the State Department's Special Representative for Iran, told reporters Monday.
"We very much hoped that Iran would not miscalculate and confuse our restraint for weakness. But after so many attacks, it was important for the president to direct our armed forces to respond in a way that the Iranian regime will understand."
Trump’s comments Sunday came amid escalating tensions in the Middle East following the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force. Iran has vowed to retaliate and Iraq’s parliament responded by voting Sunday to oust US troops based in the country.
The split between the president and his Pentagon chief came amid heightened tensions with Tehran following a US drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Trump had twice warned that he would hit Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates against the US.
The sanctions, announced at the White House, marked the latest salvo in a US-Iranian confrontation that risked sliding into war a week ago with the deadly US drone attack on general Qasem Soleimani, who was by some measures the second most influential person in Iran.
The apparent show of strength comes just two days before Moscow marks the second anniversary of its military assault on Ukraine, where it has been trying to gain momentum.
The move is part of a bakery project initiated by the ERC to alleviate the severe shortage of bread within the Gaza Strip and ease the harsh humanitarian conditions they currently endure.
The highly skilled Air Wing search and rescue teams of Ras Al Khaimah Police successfully rescued seven stranded Asians who had lost their way in the rugged terrain of Wadi Shahha in Ras Al Khaimah.