Iran’s leadership vowed to avenge the death of the slain general, Qasem Soleimani. And the vow was not an empty threat. In the early hours of Wednesday, Iran’s attack on two airbases of the United States (US) was not unsurprising. It was apparent to all those who know the relations between the two countries that Iran would retaliate for the killing of its top commander. Tehran felt doing so necessary to deter the US from future adventurism. Will the score between the two countries settle with this? Or has the Iranian attack escalated the already volatile situation further?

Understandably, Iran will hail the attack as the most appropriate response to the killing of its top commander. The strike will sooth the public anger and calm down the emotions. This much is evident from the statement of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who termed the attack “a slap in the face” for the US. Maybe the Iranians think that the attack will help to end the escalation. But probably this is what the US wanted from Iran. Perhaps, Iran took the bait by attacking the US instalments in Iraq. And if there are any casualties, especially US’s, then the Trump administration will exploit the opportunity to paint Iran as the aggressive and rogue state. The US, along with its allies, will try to depict the Iranian government that has little to no regard for international law and norms.

Nevertheless, what is most important right now is de-escalating the tensions. But which countries can play a constructive role here? The United Kingdom (UK) is not in that position. Its partisanship is visible from the latest statement of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where he is suggesting that Iran needs to pursue urgent de-escalation. But he does not want to criticise the US for its killing of General Soleimani. Instead, he remains adamant that the “man had the blood of British troop on his hands.” Likewise, other US allies lack the courage to call a spade a spade.

And it is this lack of courage on the part of the US’s allies that the US is becoming more and more belligerent against Iran. If the major players do not carry out sincere efforts to de-escalate the tensions, then it is the beginning of a very prolonged confrontation between Iran and its proxies and the US and its allies. To avoid an all-out war between the two hostile states, the responsibility of mediation lays on the shoulders of the European powers to resolve this “man-made crisis”.