The world was very close to witnessing yet another US preemptive strike war in the Middle East this week, and though a last minute White House decision to stand down caused a collective sigh of relief, even a minor incident could yet trigger a major conflagration.
Early Saturday a top Iranian general warned Iran is ready to initiate a full retaliation if even "one bullet" is fired at the Islamic Republic. “Firing one bullet towards Iran will set fire to the interests of America and its allies” in the Middle East, armed forces general staff spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told Tasnim News Agency.
“The Islamic Republic has never and will never start any wars,” Shekarchi added, and threatened further, “if the enemy commits the smallest of mistakes, it will face the biggest revolutionary reaction from Iran in Central and West Asia, and it will certainly not survive the battle.”
"If the enemy fires one shot in our direction, we will fire ten back," he said, following the dramatic shoot down of a US military drone, which while Iran said had violated its airspace, US commanders countered that it had been in international airspace the whole time.
On Friday President Trump revealed that "we were cocked and loaded" for an attack on Iran, but explained in an extreme show of transparency why he decided against airstrikes on Iran, saying that he was informed by a general that about 150 would die, and thus had to weigh the consequences. "10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone," Trump explained to the American public in a tweet.
Meanwhile Russia has slammed Washington decision-makers for escalating tensions to a point where climbing down the escalation ladder will prove increasingly difficult.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov responded to the near-miss war in the Persian Gulf by saying “the situation is on the brink of war”, as cited in Russian news agency RIA.
Ryabkov called on Washington to "weigh the possible consequences of conflict with Iran and said a report in the New York Times showed the situation was extremely dangerous," according to Reuters.