Some people believe that Tehran's response to the Qassem Soleimani assassination resulted in an easing of tensions between the United States and Iran. They argue that the Iranians, intimidated, landed on a symbolic act of retaliation – which they proceeded to portray as vengeance on the home front.
A minimal military response would indeed demonstrate Tehran's reluctance to launch a comprehensive offensive against the United States. Yet tensions between the two countries also reached new heights, attaining some level of permanence. At the end of the day, Iran did notify Iraq – and, by extension, the Americans – before attacking a U.S. military base in Baghdad because it did not intend to kill Americans. That the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps would retaliate against U.S. airstrikes, however, suggests that there will be room for unexpected twists and turns down the road. Despite mutual threats, Iran believes to have avenged Soleimani's death and has encouraged its proxies to refrain from attacks against the United States to mitigate the risk of all-out war.