Israel and Iran Step Back from Brink of War After Restrained Strikes

Israel and Iran step back from brink of war, but Middle East tensions continue to test Biden's global calm promise as he prepares for reelection.

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Salman Khan
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Israel and Iran Step Back from Brink of War After Restrained Strikes

Israel and Iran Step Back from Brink of War After Restrained Strikes

Israel and Iran have stepped back from the brink of war after restrained strikes, but challenges across the Middle East continue to test President Joe Biden's promise of global calm as he gears up for his reelection effort. The situation remains delicate, with Biden urging Israel's government to temper its response to Iran's attacks.

On April 13, President Biden and his national-security team watched as monitors in the White House Situation Room showed a massive barrage of over 100 Iranian missiles, war drones heading towards Israel. Biden and his aides feared this attack could overwhelm the strengthened defenses they and Israel had spent more than a week preparing.

However, Israel's retaliatory strike, tensions on Iran and Syria caused limited damage, after Biden urged the Israeli government to temper its response to Iran's attack. Iran's public response was also muted, raising hopes that the tensions between the two countries will stay at a simmer.

Why this matters: The restrained action has raised hopes that the long-standing tensions between Israel and Iran, carried out in the shadows with cyberattacks, assassinations, and sabotage, will stay at a simmer. However, foreign policy matters are expected to have more relevance for voters in this election, with the economy and border security carrying greater resonance.

Biden has staked political capital on his response to the Israel-Hamas war and his administration's backing of Ukraine, and the new $95 billion wartime aid package for Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel is seen as a boost for the White House. Despite the apparent de-escalation, the Middle East and other global challenges continue to test Biden's promise of bringing calm and renewed respect for the United States on the world stage.

Republicans have criticized Biden's policies, including his unsuccessful efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal and his withdrawal from Afghanistan, arguing they have contributed to the U.S. dealing with multiple global crises. While Biden has staked political capital on his response to the Israel-Hamas war and support for Ukraine, his handling of foreign affairs has received negative voter appraisals, which could pose a challenge as he seeks reelection.

The recent confrontation between Israel and Iran has revealed insights into the capabilities of both militaries. Israel demonstrated its military dominance over Iran in a precision strike that hit near military and nuclear targets deep within Iran, with Iran's defenses unable to mount a significant challenge. Experts predict that Israel and its allies will be encouraged by the Israeli military's superior performance, but caution that Iran has not yet brought its greatest military advantage, Hezbollah and other Iran-allied armed groups in the region, into the main battle.

The international community, including the UN and G7 countries, has called for restraint and de-escalation to prevent a broader regional conflict. UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for calm after the reported Israeli retaliation against Iran, which added to months of tense spillover from the war in Gaza. "The secretary-general urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint and prevent further escalation and intensification of the regional conflicts," said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

Key Takeaways

  • Israel and Iran stepped back from brink of war after restrained strikes.
  • Biden urged Israel to temper response to Iran's attacks to avoid escalation.
  • Israel demonstrated military dominance over Iran in a precision strike.
  • Biden's handling of foreign affairs receives negative voter appraisals.
  • UN calls for restraint and de-escalation to prevent broader regional conflict.