When news of the Iranian strikes came Washington went febrile.
President Trump had said that targeting Americans would provoke a strong US response.
As top national security advisers rushed to the White House, there was talk of an imminent presidential address to the nation.
Image: Donald Trump claimed Iran ‘appears to be standing down’
It felt like America could be on the brink of war.
Then Mr Trump tweeted and the tone shifted – “all is well!’ he said – the world seemed less sure.
The Iranian strikes were provocatively aimed at US targets, but troops were unharmed.
The lack of US casualties was crucial in what the president did next.
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He entered the White House grand foyer, backlit by the DC sunshine – his top military and national security officials awaiting him at the podium, where he proclaimed victory and prompted a global sigh of relief.
Mr Trump framed the situation as a US win – it is easy to see why.
America kills one of the most important people in Iran and in return gets a symbolic strike that leaves no US casualties.
Image: Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed in an airstrike
There was a sense that Iran now wants to draw a line and call time on escalation – Mr Trump seems ready to follow.
He said the US is still “evaluating options” in terms of how it responds to the Iranian strikes but for now more sanctions will suffice.
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The sense here in Washington was that Mr Trump – the anti-interventionist – was looking for an “off ramp” – a way of avoiding the kind of conflict he has railed against for years.
For now, he has taken that option – but no one is under any illusion that it ends here.
Donald Trump began his address by saying that while he is president – Iran would never have a nuclear weapon.
‘A very good thing for the world’
The Obama era nuclear deal aimed at preventing just that – is now in tatters.
Mr Trump called on the UK, Germany, France, Russia and China to abandon the JCPOA – and work towards a deal that makes the world safer and more peaceful.
He has not offered much on what that might look like.
Renegotiating it would take talks and diplomacy – and would require Iran capitulating on all of its existing policies.
The killing of Soleimani makes all that seem an unlikely prospect – certainly in the short term.
Iran is still licking its wounds over the loss of its beloved general.
Image: Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, the newly appointed commander of the country’s Quds Force
His death can surely only fuel the resistance we have seen so far to the US campaign of “maximum pressure”.
It is hard to see that we are any further forward.
Iran/US relations are still incredibly precarious and still with no clear US strategy in sight.
Source : Sky News