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Not long ago, just after the new year was rung in, Americans watched and worried as an exchange of rocket and missile attacks on Iraqi soil brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war. The rockets and missiles are still flying in Iraq—at least four attacks in the past week, likely by Iranian-linked militias, killing two U.S. soldiers and one Briton. The U.S. has responded with air strikes and increased sanctions, both of which put civilians at risk.
None of this has been at the top of your news feed, as governments have pivoted to the all-consuming effort to quell the coronavirus before it kills millions of people. Iran and the U.S. are being hit particularly hard by the virus and its broader effects. So is Iraq, where stability is urgently needed to save its people from disease and ruin. But as the pandemic grows, the threats between leaders in Washington and Tehran persist, along with proxy violence in Iraq. If these leaders fail to defer their animosities, all three nations will suffer the costs.This article was originally published in The New Republic.