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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Happy Holiday’s! Here’s an airstrike for you.

Happy Holiday’s! Here’s an airstrike for you.

What’s better than starting off a new decade than the possibility of another conflict in the Middle East. The answer? World War 3 memes. They are of course, putting a lighter spin on an actually tense and plausible situation that the international community might experience. On only the third day of this year, the US decided that the holiday season was over, and it was now time to go back to bombing the Middle East. Qasem Soleimani was assassinated leading to public outcry from various Islamic nations in the region. For many, the man was not well known until his death. So, who was he? Well, he was one of the most important men in Iran and, for that matter, the Middle East. He was the charismatic leader of Iran’s militia’s in the region. He was credited for upholding and maintaining the Assad regime in Syria and had been strongly accused by the US of being a terrorist, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops and was planning imminent attacks against the US. The result of this was that he was killed in an airstrike by the US in Baghdad, Iraq on the 3rd January, which prompted regional outcry and the potential breaking of international law.

Soleimani’s funeral was attended by huge crowds, with Iran’s state media saying that the number was in the millions. However, the exact number was never officially stated. Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei, was seen weeping when giving a speech for Soleimani’s funeral, with other high-ranking officials doing the same. Chants of “death to America” rung through the funeral, as well as Iran’s legislative body. However, the funeral was not a smooth celebration of a public figure’s death. Unfortunately, 50 people were killed in a stampede.

The response from the rest of the international scene has been tense. France, Germany and the U.K. released a joint statement calling for de-escalation, as well as attempting to retain the nuclear deal. The US was somewhat less diplomatic. What a surprise. President Trump stated that it could react “disproportionately” to any attack by Iran on its bases/assets. However, Iran ignored this and attacked two US bases via 12 missile strikes on the 8th January. Naturally, this prompted even more calls for de-escalation from the international community, which was not helped by Trump’s comments of bombing cultural sights in Iran.

Another issue in Iran (they just can’t seem to stay out of the news at the moment) was that a Ukrainian plane exploded under suspicious circumstances in its territory, killing all 176 people on board. Dozens were from Ukraine and Canada, as well as from the UK, Afghanistan and Sweden. Initially, Iran responded extremely defensively, accusing the Western media of lying, when claiming that the plane was shot down. However, it took three days for Iran to finally admit that they had accidentally shot down the commercial airline, claiming that the independent missile operator only had “10 seconds to decide” whether to strike or not. The nation’s leadership then proceeded to blame the US for increasing tensions in the region that ultimately led to this awful mistake.

All in all, a busy start to the decade for the international community. The phrase “new year, new me” hasn’t seemed to resonate in a positive manner for US-Iran relations, with it being worse than it has been for decades. The EU has a big fight on their hands trying to ensure that Iran’s upholds the nuclear agreement, with President Trump being typically unhelpful on the matter. Trump’s foreign policy continues to be somewhat questionable at the least, providing new fears of a conflict in an already unstable region. The only people who seem to feel pretty good about themselves is Islamic State. The very people that everyone doesn’t want “to feel pretty good”. The removal of Soleimani by the US has put two of their biggest enemies against each other, with the terrorist group likely to try and promote their hateful interest in the region. What we can be sure of is that the he 2020’s are off to a bang. Literally.

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