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Trump says Iran is Standing Down after missile attacks on US troops

Leo Shane III and Aaron Mehta

Trump says Iran is Standing Down after missile attacks on US troops
President Donald Trump said Iran appears to be “standing down” after a missile attack on U.S. military facilities in Iraq on Tuesday, but warned that the regime still faces economic sanctions and potential military reprisals if it continues aggression in the region.

“Peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred and war,” Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House on Wednesday morning.

“The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime that (their) campaign of terror, murder and mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.”

The commander-in-chief confirmed earlier reports that no U.S. personnel were injured in the missile attacks, which struck servicemember housing units at al-Asad airbase and Erbil International Airport. He also added that “only minimal damage was sustained and our military bases.”

The Iranian military action came in response to an American air strike last week in Iraq that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. Administration officials said that decision was based on evidence that Soleimani presented an imminent threat to U.S. troops and civilian personnel in the region.

Analysts warned that even if the current crisis calms down, tensions between the two countries will remain in place.

Becca Wasser, a senior policy analyst with the Rand Corporation, said Iran may wait a few weeks before resuming lower-level activities, such as attacks by proxy groups, that they have been doing for some time.

But she believes they will ultimately return to the same “malign activities” the U.S. has been concerned about for years.

“It’s taking a pause and walking back from this major crisis, but it doesn’t address any of the underlying issues,” she said of the recent events. “In some ways it’s just putting a Band-Aid over something and not addressing the root cause. It’s only a matter of time before there will be another crisis or something escalates yet again.”

Ilan Goldenberg, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, similarly warned against assuming the danger is over.

“We should also keep in mind that this is likely not the extent of the retaliation,” he said. “Some may play out in the days ahead. Other responses may take months or years.”