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The U.S.-Iran crisis and Tokyo’s response

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SAPPORO – Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, was killed on Jan. 3 in Iraq. The event sparked concerns that military tensions could escalate out of control.

This crisis is best regarded as an escalation that has occurred due to series of miscalculations by both Iran and the United States. Iran acted in accordance with its belief that U.S President Donald Trump was “a president who would not pull the trigger.”

Emboldened, Iran’s Soleimani sought to take advantage of rising anti-American sentiment in Iraq, where he wielded strong influence, by attacking U.S. forces stationed there. That attack took place in December, claiming the life of a U.S. military contractor. The U.S. tried to respond in a proportionate manner by bombing a Shiite militia base.

However, the attack on a base in Iraq heightened anti-American sentiment among the Iraqi people, who then stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, changing the calculation significantly. In response, Trump made the decision to assassinate Soleimani.

That decision was also a miscalculated one. Trump had believed that killing “the bad guy” Soleimani would be applauded by Iranian dissidents, when in fact it had the........

© The Japan Times