US President Donald Trump has said that the US is not gearing up for war with Iran, adding that he prefers peace to war. It comes just hours after the US leader upped the ante, making a pointed threat against Tehran on Twitter.
With simmering tensions between Tehran and Washington flaring up over an attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, which the US blamed squarely on Iran without providing any proof, there have been growing fears that another war of words could spiral into something far more violent.
In an apparent attempt to diffuse the tension, Trump said late on Tuesday that he does not foresee a war actually breaking out between the US and Iran.
“War with Iran? I don’t think that would be a good idea for Iran… I like peace… I don’t see that happening,” Trump told media as he arrived at the grand ballroom at Mar-a-Lago for a New Year bash on Tuesday night.
Tehran has vehemently denied allegations that it is somehow complicit in the unrest sparked by US airstrikes that killed 25 members of the Iraqi Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah over the weekend.
The American sorties have drawn ire from the Iraqi government, calling the bombing a violation of the country’s sovereignty as well as of militiamen and ordinary citizens who flocked to the US Embassy in Iraq to protest against the airstrikes.
Protests turned violent on Tuesday as demonstrators attempted to storm the compound, and saw US attack helicopters being scrambled to scatter the protesters after they reportedly breached the front gate.
In the wake of the attack, the Pentagon announced that it would send 750 paratroopers to the Middle East “immediately” in response to the incident, which will be followed by “additional forces.” Washington has repeatedly invoked the “Iranian threat” to beef up its military presence in the region, having deployed some 14,000 troops to the Middle East since May 2019 in addition to about 60,000 that are already stationed there.