Tension between the U.S. and Iran came to a head on Friday (Jan. 3) after a U.S. drone killed the head of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militia organization, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
The strain between Iran and the U.S. date back to the 1953 overthrow of Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, and has been ongoing, which resulted in Americans being held hostage at the U.S Embassy for 444 days by Tehran protestors.
In 2013, shortly after Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani took office, former President Barack Obama extended an olive branch to Iran. After 30 years of tension, Iran and the U.S. agreed to have diplomatic relations with a long-term nuclear program. However, in 2018, President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal and reinstated sanctions against Iran, including countries that trade with the Western Asia country.
Over the past few months, the tension between Iran and the U.S. continued to escalate. Below is a timeline of events leading to the death of Qassem Soleimani.
— Tara Copp (@TaraCopp) January 3, 2020
Saudi Arabia Oil Attack
In September 2019, an oil facility in Saudi Arabia was attacked. Houthi rebels took responsibility for the charge while threatening more onslaught if the country fails to lift its blockade on Yemen.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack, and Trump instigated the situation by saying that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” and ready to respond with possible military action.
Saudi investigators said the weapons used in the attack came from Iran, but it remains unclear on where the weapons were launched from.
Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
Iran and U.S. Spies
The attacks on the Saudi oil facility came shortly after Iran arrested 17 spies, who were allegedly recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
According to several news reports, spies had been taken into custody, sentencing some to death. Trump, and Pompeo (a former CIA director), said Iran’s claims were false.
The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019
The Launch Of Airstrikes
Iraqi leaders claimed that the U.S. violated Iraqi sovereignty by killing 24 people in retaliation for the death of an American contractor. The airstrikes also wounded 50 people in addition to the 24 people killed.
The U.S. said the strikes were a response to the more than 30 rockets launched against an Iraqi military base, killing one American and wounding four others.
“In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah attacks on Iraqi bases that host @CJTFOIR forces, U.S. forces conducted precision defensive strikes against 5 KH facilities in Iraq & Syria [to] degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against @coalition forces.” ~@ChiefPentSpox pic.twitter.com/g2hmTD4Eqw
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) December 29, 2019
March on U.S. Embassy
The airstrike came after Pro-Iranian militia members marched on the U.S. Embassy, holding American diplomats hostage for more than 24 hours. President Trump blamed Iran for the protest. The statement also said that “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the statement reads.
Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more. pic.twitter.com/huFcae3ap4
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 3, 2020
The Killing of Qassem Soleimani
An American drone hit two cars carrying Qassem Suleimani and other officials backed by Iranian militias as they were leaving the Baghdad International Airport.
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Soleimani’s death in a statement by calling the murder “decisive defensive action.” Trump tweeted a picture of the American flag, insinuating a victory for America.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020