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MARCH 2021

On Brink Of War: What’s Going On After RQ-4A Global Hawk Shootdown?


On Brink Of War: What's Going On After RQ-4A Global Hawk Shootdown?

RQ-4A Global Hawk, illustrative image. Click to see full-size

In the last 24 hours since Iran shot down a US RQ-4 Global Hawk there has been a rollercoaster of events, most of which show the uncertainty of the entire situation surrounding the US-Iran tensions.

The Pentagon released a video showing the RQ-4 Global Hawk being downed.

Iran, on its part also released a video of how the drone was shot down.

Immediately after the unmanned surveillance aircraft was shot down, US President Donald Trump tweeted that it was a “big mistake” on Iran’s part.

Later on he “salvaged” the situation by saying that he meant that Iran shooting down the drone was a mistake by somebody underneath the Iranian leadership, and was not specifically on purpose.

He said that the drone had clearly been shot above international waters, but he everything surrounding the incident wasn’t clear.

“Let’s see what happens,” Trump said.

Following that, the New York Times reported that Trump had ordered a strike on Iran, but later pulled back from launching them on the evening of June 20th.

Unnamed senior administration officials said that Trump’s aides were split about whether to respond to Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, had favored a military response. But top Pentagon officials cautioned that such an action could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for American forces in the region.

Congressional leaders were briefed by administration officials in the Situation Room.

Democrats, following the president’s classified briefing in the Situation Room and urged Trump to de-escalate the situation. They called on the president to seek congressional authorization before taking any military action.

“This is a dangerous situation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “We are dealing with a country that is a bad actor in the region. We have no illusions about Iran in terms of their ballistic missile transfers, about who they support in the region and the rest.”

Washington is largely uncertain in its claims, as Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the Air Force commander for the Central Command region in the Middle East, said the attack could have endangered “innocent civilians,” even though officials at Central Command continued to assert that the drone was over international waters.

Pentagon released a map allegedly showing the flight path of the drone and that it was outside of Iranian territory. But the department incorrectly called the flight path of the drone the location of the shooting down and offered little context for an image that appeared to be the drone exploding in midair.

Most recently, Reuters reported that Iran had received a message from the US through Oman that a US attack was imminent.

In addition, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, one of the most prolific hawks in the Trump administration, is to visit Israel and meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 23rd. He will also meet with Israeli national security and atomic energy officials during the trip. They will discuss “regional security” in addition to topics related to the Palestinians.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in a letter to the Security Council that the drone ignored repeated radio warnings before it was downed. He said that Tehran “does not seek war” but “is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea and air.”

Separately, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also tweeted saying that he was showing the precise coordinates the drone was shot down and that it was in Iranian airspace.

Iran even showcased parts of the Global Hawk.

Hossein Salami, the commander in chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said crossing the country’s border was “our red line,” the Iranian Mehr news agency reported.

“We are not going to get engaged in a war with any country, but we are fully prepared for war,” Mr. Salami said at a military ceremony in Sanandaj, Iran, according to a translation from Press TV, a state-run news outlet. “Today’s incident was a clear sign of this precise message, so we are continuing our resistance.”

There is quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the entire situation, with both sides claiming they were in the right. But if reports that Trump initially ordered a strike and then called it back would mean that the US are simply attempting to exert pressure on Iran, without actually undertaking action.

However, if the US finally decides that it has to take some kind of military action of Iran, a new hot conflict could easily start in the region.




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