It's a brand new year, which of course brings a brand new national Trump-related controversy to the forefront of American politics. On January 4th, the President personally ordered the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, which occurred at an airfield in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, where Soleimani had just arrived to meet with the Iraqi Prime Minister to discuss potentially easing tensions between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The general was killed shortly after arriving at the airport, as he rode in a vehicle convoy taking him from his plane to downtown Baghdad. Before his car could exit the runway, it was struck with several missiles fired from a U.S Airforce MQ-9 Reaper drone, which completely destroyed two vehicles in the convoy. The attack killed Soleimani and nine other people, and prompted immediate outrage from both the Iraqi and Iranian governments.
The airstrike was completely unprecedented, and was the first time the United States killed a military leader in a foreign country since World War ll. Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a division of the Iraninan military responsible for protecting Iran’s borders and keeping out foriegn interference. He was well known in Iran and widely regarded as a national hero, as many Iranian citizens credited him with defeating ISIS and keeping terrorists out of the country. At the time of his death, most international observers considered him to be the second most powerful person in Iran, after the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. His killing enraged the citizens of Iran, who took to the streets, chanting “down with America”, and in some cases burning American flags. The Iranian government promised swift retaliation, which led to fears all around the world that the two longtime adversaries may finally be heading to war.
President Donald Trump was criticized by many Democratic politicians in the United States for perceived abrupt and reckless nature of the attack. The White House justified it by claiming that Soleimani was planning “imminent attacks” on U.S embassies in the middle east, but have yet to provide specifics on what those attacks would be and when they would happen. Democrats have argued that the airstrike was needless, and only served to destroy U.S-Iranian relations, while Republicans have argued that it was a necessary measure to protect American lives. The Russian government condemned the strike, as did the United Nations, who called it a “violation of international human rights law”. However, representatives of the UK government defended the American actions, claiming they had a right to self defence. Serra students are divided on the situation, senior Blake Eastman believes the strike was the right choice, explaining “frankly I’m glad he’s dead, I would have assassinated him sooner.” Other Serra students are largely unaware of the strike, “Salami? That’s a funny name,” said senior Ryan Pac when asked about it. A few days after the initial airstrike, the Iranian Military responded by launching missiles at several U.S Army bases located in surrounding countries. The missiles caused extensive structural damage, but no lives were lost. Shortly after launching the missiles, Iran accidentally shot down a Ukranian passenger jet flying over the capital, Tehran, likely believing it to be an attacking American plane. Nearly 200 people were killed in that crash, which led to both nations de-escalating tensions, and appears to have stayed off armed conflict for now. Senior JD Heinrich believes that “Trump got very lucky” in this aspect, and people around the world have collectively breathed a sigh of relief. Still, even if war has been avoided, the scars left on U.S-Iranian diplomacy by this strike will likely remain for decades to come.