Three days. That’s how long my hope and optimism for the new year lasted. Three days before all hell broke loose and the world was at threat of launching a full on nuclear war between the USA and Iran. But what does this mean to us as a generation? Have tensions finally simmered down? Or is there still a real potential for war?
Here’s a short summary of all the events that occurred this early January and the latest on international relations between Iran and the USA.
After President Trump withdrew the USA from the Iranian nuclear deal (also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) as of May 2018, the threat of a nuclear war erupting was made dangerously possible. Not to mention, the US sanctions against Iran in 2019, as well as Trump labelling the Iranian military as an official ‘foreign terrorist group’ severely heightened tensions between the two countries.
But it wasn’t until the 3rd of January 2020, that actions really escalated. This date marked the targeted assasination of the Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, by a US drone at Baghdad airport, whilst Soleimani at the time was visiting Iraq. Although the USA’s president claims the attack was fully legal and justified, the Iranian’s government took the killing of their military leader as an official declaration of war and vowed revenge on this heinous murder.
Soleimani had a very powerful position and was responsible over Iran’s international bases across the Middle East. The motivations behind the planned strike, which was expressed by President Trump’s administration team, were also seemingly inconsistent. As they first claimed Soleimani was a terrorist who was behind the murder of US troops, and then later went on to say that it was more to do with the “potential” he had to plot against the USA and that his murder was justified in order to prevent “future” attacks. This was followed by the US announcement to deploy 3,000 more troops into the Middle East.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has also had to defend its ally in this situation by claiming that Soleimani had “British blood on his hands”, whilst also having to avoid encouraging the possibility of war at all costs.
Just two days later, Iran extended its enrichment of uranium, going against the limits set out in the nuclear deal. They then responded by firing 22 missiles at two American military bases in Iraq, but this was merely a show of aggression, as there were no casualties.
Just hours later, a Ukrainian plane travelling from Iran to Ukraine, was unintentionally shot down by the Iranian forces, after mistaking it for a US missile. They first denied all blame for the incident, claiming that it had been a technical malfunction. Yet this story was highly unlikely as the plane was one of the most used and safely working planes of the airline. Later information provided by US and allied intelligence forces put pressure on Iran to confess the truth behind the mysterious plane crash. In this attack all 176 boarding passengers were killed.
Ever since these events have taken place, ‘World War III’ has been trending on social media platforms everywhere. It seems the anxieties about a potential new war has unsettled thousands, particularly evoking a response within our generation, who are especially politically active. It seems we are absolutely terrified by the state of current global affairs, whilst being able to use dark humour and memes as a coping mechanism to make light of the situation.
Assassinations, missile attacks and potential war – what a terrifying start to the new year and new decade. Fortunately, tensions between the USA and Iran have died down as of yet, and according to professional analysts, it seems the likelihood of WW3 is very low. But the events that have occurred in early January should still not be taken lightly and forgotten. They serve as a powerful reminder for how international relations can become dangerous. They should remind us of what lies at stake if war becomes a real possibility in a 21st century world, which has the power to launch nuclear weapons. As a generation, I think we should take as much action as possible to advocate preventing war and destruction. Now more than ever, it’s an important time to get involved in politics, assert our power through petitions and protests and lobby our governments for peace and change.