US calls off attack on Iran

After the shooting down of a US drone in the Persian Gulf by the Iranian National Guard President Trump deployed fighter jets to attack Iranian missile systems. In the last minute, however, he called off the strikes. Commentators observe the tense situation with concern, analyse Trump's tactics and criticise Europe's lack of any sort of plan.

Open/close all quotes
Lost in EUrope (DE) /

EU backs down once again

For the EU the looming war is still not an issue, criticises Eric Bonse in his blog Lost in EUrope:

“This is surprising when we remember that the EU still has a nuclear deal with Iran and is promising to maintain trade with the country despite the American threats. If it does come to war the EU can forget all that. Yet it couldn't muster the courage for more than a few timid demands for a 'political solution' at the summit. Even though Merkel & co. have stressed at every opportunity that they want to be 'involved in big matters in a big way' and finally be able to engage in world politics. Foreign policy is even a focus of the 'strategic agenda' that the summit has decided on. But when things get serious the EU submits.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Unpredictability is part of Trump's strategy

There is method behind Trump's first ordering the attack and then cancelling it at the last minute, Večernji list comments:

“That Trump first ordered the attack on Friday morning only to call it off shortly afterwards doesn't mean that he has given up the war. This is after all the most unpredictable politician on the planet here, who uses different methods to achieve his goals. So 'war yes, war no' is just yet another facet of his many-sided psychological war: Trump's enemy can never be sure when he will be rocked by a missile attack. Yet the belligerent Twitter rhetoric of the US president is not the result of a mad desire for war: a year ago he threatened Kim Jong-un only to describe him afterwards as a friend.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

The US should stay out of this

The US has no reasonable justification for waging a war against Iraq, Yeni Şafak criticises:

“Iran isn't threatening the US in any way. In any event it's too distant - and too weak - to do so. The fact is, however, that Iran is free to do as it pleases on this matter now that the US has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement. By doing this the US lost the authority to involve itself in matters pertaining to Iran. ... On the other hand Israel may feel threatened by an Iran in possession of nuclear weapons. But it isn't easy for a US president to explain to his people that he's going to war with Iran because Israel feels threatened.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Let's hope it stops at threats

The conflict could go global, Cristian Unteanu fears in his blog with Adevărul:

“For me the most worrying news comes from Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. He said his country could ask Russia for a few S-400 [mobile air defence system] batteries and the relevant personnel. This would change the rules of the game completely. And if a plane belonging to the US or another country were shot down, it would automatically bring serious complications. Let's hope that this is no more than loud threats. If not, we'll be among the first to be affected because an attack on a US plane could trigger collective defence as defined by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A hopeless situation

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has little hope. He writes in La Repubblica:

“Another Middle East war is the last thing we need. Iran shot down an American drone on Thursday, in the latest sign that President Trump and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may be on a collision course. Both say they don’t want a war but each feeds off the other, and both have behaved recklessly in ways that increase the risk of conflict. So, whatever the outcome of this immediate crisis over the shooting down of the drone (in which each side says the other is the aggressor), we're facing very real risks of a cycle of escalation, without good face-saving exit ramps for either Trump or Khamenei. This could get scarier.”

Polityka (PL) /

Risk of mass retaliations

So it's war after all, Polityka fears:

“The Iranians have large ballistic missiles and who knows if they will use them, for example against Israel, US bases in the region or Saudi Arabia. An attack like that naturally carries the risk of mass retaliations and the loss of international backing, which is crumbling anyway. ... If the Iranian regime is crazy enough to add nuclear warheads to its missiles - that's if it has any - it will shake the foundations of the world. We must be prepared for all eventualities because we live in unpredictable times.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

EU or UN must de-escalate

The conflict badly needs a negotiator, the Süddeutsche Zeitung notes:

“What is certain is that Iran has shot down a US drone. The US command in the region has said that the drone was in neutral airspace. Hopefully there will be proof of that. As a rule flight paths are precisely recorded by radar. So there's every reason to believe that the case can be cleared up unequivocally. Before the US can issue an 'adequate response', and for example sink the Revolutionary Guards' patrol boats, it should call in a negotiator. The European Union is one option because it remains balanced on the nuclear conflict. Even better would be the UN secretary general.”