UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Urged All Parties To Exercise Maximum Restraint

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency order on Thursday evening prohibiting US airlines from operating in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace nearby in response.

Airlines from other countries, including Britain’s British Airways, the Dutch carrier KLM, Emirates, and Qantas of Australia, have also said they will re-route their flights to avoid parts of Iran.

President Trump’s decision to order – and then abort – an attack still sends a powerful message to Tehran.

The two countries came to the brink of direct conflict. But in this complex game of signaling, just what message will the Iranian leadership receive?

It, after all, had sent a significant warning of its own by downing an unmanned US reconnaissance drone.

Mr. Trump initially appeared to play down the incident – but then apparently came the orders for a US retaliatory strike. That was followed by a last-minute change of heart.

The danger now is that Iran receives mixed messages that convey uncertainty and lack of resolve. This might encourage some in Tehran to push back at the Americans even harder.

There appears to be no diplomatic “off-ramp” in this crisis.

US economic sanctions are hitting home. Tehran is under pressure. Escalation remains an ever-present danger.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced its air force had shot down a US “spy” drone on Thursday morning after the unmanned aircraft violated Iranian airspace near Kuhmobarak in the southern province of Hormozgan.

IRGC commander-in-chief Maj-Gen Hossein Salami said the drone’s downing was a “clear message” to the US that Iran’s borders were “our red line”.

However, US military officials maintain the drone was in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at the time.

Iranian officials say two warnings were issued 10 minutes before the drone was shot down.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a high-ranking officer in the IRGC, said another military aircraft, carrying 35 passengers, had been flying close to the drone. “We could have shot down that one too, but we did not,” he said.

The shooting down of the drone followed accusations by the US that Iran had attacked two oil tankers with mines last Thursday just outside the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Oman.