Rising tensions and conflict: What’s happening in Iran?

Diego Hernandez, Reporter

If you’ve been following the last few weeks of news coverage, whether that may be through social media or news broadcasts, you should undoubtedly be hearing a lot of noise circle around and out of Iran. Beneath all of the humor of a falsely alleged draft and a new world war, lies a raw and heated political conflict that has stemmed for decades, and the last few weeks has rocked that to new lows. The killing of Qasem Soleimani and an attack on a US embassy in Baghdad, Iraq is just the tip of the iceberg to the rabbit hole of political tension between Iran and the United States, and everything in between.


Soleimani was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a commander for the Quds Force. The Quds Force, as described by US Army General Stanley McChrystal in Foreign Policy, is the Iranian equivalent of the CIA and JSOC combined. They are known to be involved, according to the US Army, with many non-state organizations in Middle Eastern countries such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Yemeni Houthis and avid supporters of Shia militias in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. To many Iranians, Soleimani was considered the second most powerful person in Iran behind Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran.


So why was he killed by US forces?


According to BBC, he was the main figure head of Iran’s military operations in the Middle East. And as a result, the Trump Administration’s main source of justification and reasoning for his killing, according to Business Insider, is that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” Secretary of State Mike Pmopeo adds on by saying the killing of Soleimani has saved American lives, and that “there was in fact an imminent attack taking place.” According to Business Insider, the use of the word “imminent” is key as according to International Law, “striking an enemy first to prevent an attack is only lawful when that attack is thought to be imminent. Later that same Friday, Trump told reporters that they caught Soleimani planning “imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. Just days prior to the attack on Soleimani, in Baghdad an American embassy was attacked by Iraqi militias who later stated the attacks were a response to the US airstrike attacks on Dec. 29, 2019 on Hezbollah, which ultimately killed 25 militia members, wounding 55 others. However, those attacks were a retort following Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah attack of an Iraqi air base in Iraq which killed an American civilian contractor and injuring four US service members and two Iraqi security forces personnel.


However, Iran did not directly have any involvement with the attacks on the US embassy, additionally Iraq’s government condemned the attacks on the US embassy. It was also later revealed that, according to The Citizen, Trump had been planning the killing of Soleimani for 18 months, starting a conversation of controversy over whether the killings were justified or not as this comes over a year before the attacks on the US embassy.


However, the defending argument for the killings comes after years of history of conflict between the two nations as according to BBC, in May 2019, four oil tankers in the United Arab Emirates were damaged, resulting in Trump placing the blame on Iran. Later that month, a US military surveillance drone was shot down by Iranian forces as it was in their airspace. The US military later insisted that the drone was shot down in international waters which Trump later responded to Iran via Twitter saying, “Iran made a very big mistake!”


Iran was banned from 2012-2016 from selling oil and natural gas to certain countries, the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, as a result of the process of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which Iran said they lost roughly £110 billion off of missed sales in this time period alone. The sanctions were later lifted in 2015 in return that Iran would cut back it’s nuclear activities, but it ultimately made food and clothing a lot more difficult to buy for the average citizen in Iran due to a rise of prices from the damaged economy. The US later pulled out from the Iran Nuclear Deal, which would ultimately hurt the Iranian economy and process of denuclearizing Iran, who have stated that their nuclear developments are for peaceful purposes.


Iran’s response to the killing marked three days of mourning, a massive funeral which led to 40 people killed following a stampede, and multiple rocket attacks on US military bases in Iraq, which ultimately resulted in 0 deaths or injuries, despite Iranian state media saying dozens of Americans were killed. However, in the process of the rocket attacks, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down in Tehran by an Iranian missile which ultimately resulted in the loss of 176 people, 0 survivors. Iran initially denied the event was caused by them, but later admitted into doing so, but refusing to release the black box. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked for the cooperation of Iran into investigation following the deaths of 63 Canadian nationals on board, which results from Canada urging it’s citizens to leave Iran following the events leading up to the attack. On Jan. 20, 2020, 3 missiles were hit near a US embassy in Iraq with no casualties reported thus far. Trump is set to meet the Iranian supreme leader in Davos, Switzerland in the coming days according to Joyce Karam from The National. As of the last few days however, Iranian protesters have started making their voices heard against the Supreme Leader following the last few weeks of attacks. Trump has openly stated his support for these protesters on Twitter, which has now sprouted political division in Iran. Many Iranians alike, including the Supreme Leader, has stated that the infamous phrase, “Death to America,” solely applies to only American leaders such as Trump and Mike Pence, not the American people. Some Iranian citizens have spoken loudly on social media that they love the American people, but simply have a hatred for the political leaders due to the killing of Soleimani and alleged war crimes committed by the US throughout the Middle East and Iran.


Here in Morton Ranch, Iranian student Eiliya Mosavizahed, 11, is unsure on how to feel about the attacks when they happened. Her family is aware of the severity of the death of Soleimani but she is still keeping in contact with family in Iran. She believes that both nations should come to a temporary compromise to cool tensions before anything worse sprouts.


However the coming days are set to play out between the two is incredibly difficult to tell as Iran has shown some signs of ceasing anymore conflict, but with the nuclearization of them, death of the second most powerful leader in the nation, rising tensions in the Middle East with Iran’s presence and the rebellion on American allies and forces from Iranian-backed parties and militia groups, things aren’t incredibly promising. With the world watching how the US and Iran act out, they would all be hoping that both economically and militarily things stay afloat rather than go in a state of carnage.


The new decade is here, and we’re all hoping that regardless of which side people are on this situation, peace will be the ultimate goal.