“Iran-backed Shiite militias have been firing missiles at American troops and military contractors in Iraq for six months now, and last week they finally killed one of the Americans. On Sunday, the United States retaliated against the militia responsible with five airstrikes in Syria and Iraq that left 24 people dead and dozens wounded.
Militia commanders vowed vengeance, and thousands of protesters chanting “Death to America” marched through Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone on Tuesday and broke into the compound of the American Embassy. A new spiral of violence between the United States and Iran seemed in the making, although demonstrators ended their siege of the embassy on Wednesday.
This could hardly be what President Trump wants, if he has been sincere in saying he wishes to avoid wars in the Middle East. In June he aborted a retaliatory airstrike after Iran shot down an American drone. This time the administration decided to send a message that killing Americans serving or working in Iraq will not be tolerated.
Whether the airstrikes will serve as a deterrent, however, is doubtful, since it’s likely that the militias were trying to provoke just such a response.”