Senior White House reporter for Bloomberg News Jennifer Jacobs has reported there were "no American casualties from last night's Iranian missile strikes that targeted two airbases in Iraq that host U.S. troops."
BREAKING: There were no American casualties from last night’s Iranian missile strikes that targeted two airbases in Iraq that host U.S. troops, sources tell me.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 8, 2020
Iran launched a missile strike on Tuesday night against two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops in retaliation for the airstrike that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last Friday.
With no American casualties, President Trump tweeted late Tuesday that "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."
All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the attack on American airbases in Iraq "took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense." He added that "we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."
It appears Iran has taken President Trump's playbook in Syria: launch missiles and purposely miss their intended targets.
Iran has superior missile technology that can hit whatever they want – this could be in an attempt to save face as a public relations event for its citizens while attempting to de-escalate the situation and avoid war.
Pentagon saying that Iran intentionally missed US troops at bases.— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) January 8, 2020
"The live situation was optically quite dramatic but the important thing to focus on is the no-human-casualty dimension, which gives ample space to de-escalate the situation," said Salman Ahmed, chief investment strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers.
"The Trump factor is the random factor but what's visible is that no one wants war and that's what markets are focusing on."
As Craig Murray concludes, there is this morning a chink of light to avoid yet more devastation in the Middle East.
Iran’s missile strikes last night were calibrated to satisfy honour while avoiding damage that would trigger automatically the next round. The missiles appear to have been fitted out with very light warhead payloads indeed – their purpose was to look good in the dark going up into the night sky. There is every reason to believe the apparent lack of US casualties was deliberate.
Even more important was the Iraqi statement that “proportionate measures” had been “taken and concluded” and they did not seek “further escalation”.
Wars are easy to start but hard to stop. Trump appears to have calmed, but we cannot rule out a stupid “last word” attack bu the USA. It is to be hoped that Iran now concentrates on using the immense political leverage it has gained to get western troops out of Iraq, which would be a tremendous result for all of us after 17 years. But we cannot rule out hotter heads in the Iranian government insisting on further attacks, or attacks from regional forces whose Tehran authorisation is uncertain. On either side this could yet blow up badly.
I am a sucker for hope, and the best outcome would be for the US and Iran to start talking directly again, and a deal to be made from this break in the logjam that is wider than, and Trump can portray as better than, “Obama’s” nuclear deal and would enable the lifting of sanctions. I am sure Trump will be tempted by the chance to go for this kind of diplomatic coup under the political cover provided him by Soleimani’s assassination. But the US is now so tied in to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and thus tied in to irrational hostility to Iran, that this must be extremely unlikely.
For now, it appears markets believe the worst is over.