Fear Of War With Iran Once Dominated Headlines. What's Happening Now?

Jan 30, 2020

Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. assassinated an Iranian general, Iran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet and protesters took to the streets of Iran. So where are we now? We check in.


Farnaz Fassihi, reporter for the New York Times covering Iran. (@farnazfassihi)

Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution.  (@MaloneySuzanne)

Nicolas Pelham, middle east corespondent for The Economist. (@TheEconomist)

From The Reading List

1843 Magazine: “Trapped in Iran” — “I was paying my bill at the hotel when they came. There were seven of them, stiff and formal in plain-clothes. ‘Mr Pelham?’ asked the shortest one and presented me with a hand-written document in Farsi. ‘It’s been signed by a judge,’ he said. ‘It entitles us to detain you for 48 hours.’ He paused to allow the information to register on my face. ‘It might be less,’ he added. ‘We just need you to answer a few questions.’

“He gave me a choice. Either I could be questioned in the hotel or in their car on the way to the airport. ‘You might even make the plane,’ he said. Almost automatically, I asked to see a lawyer or a diplomatic representative. He flicked his wrist, indicating that this was unnecessary. ‘All we want to know is a little bit more about your trip. There’s no need to delay or complicate things.’

“It was 7.30pm. My plane left in four hours and the airport was over an hour’s drive from Tehran. The officials ushered me into a small office in the hotel and crowded around my chair.”

The New York Times: “Anatomy of a Lie: How Iran Covered Up the Downing of an Airliner” — “When the Revolutionary Guards officer spotted what he thought was an unidentified aircraft near Tehran’s international airport, he had seconds to decide whether to pull the trigger.

“Iran had just fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at American forces, the country was on high alert for an American counterattack, and the Iranian military was warning of incoming cruise missiles. The officer tried to reach the command center for authorization to shoot but couldn’t get through. So he fired an antiaircraft missile. Then another.

“The plane, which turned out to be a Ukrainian jetliner with 176 people on board, crashed and exploded in a ball of fire. Within minutes, the top commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards realized what they had done. And at that moment, they began to cover it up.”

CNN International: “First on CNN: 50 US service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after Iranian missile strike” — “Fifty US military personnel have now been diagnosed with concussions and traumatic brain injuries following the Iranian missile attack on US forces in Iraq earlier this month, according to a statement Tuesday from the Pentagon.

“That’s an increase of 16 from late last week when the Pentagon said 34 cases had been diagnosed. ‘As of today, 50 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with TBI,’ Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell said in the statement.

“‘Of these 50, 31 total service members were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 15 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report. 18 service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment. This is an increase of one service member from the previous report. As previously reported, one service member had been transported to Kuwait and has since returned to duty,’ the statement added.”

This article was originally published on

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit