Increasing Conflict in the Middle East


John Sharbaugh

United States President Donald Trump is being faced with the largest conflict of his presidency. After ordering a drone strike on January 3rd that hit a Baghdad airport, United States-Iran relations have been further strained. A total of ten people were killed including Qasem Soleimani, a popular general in Iran’s army.  Trump rationalizes his actions saying, “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.” The Pentagon corroborated with the President in a statement released the following Thursday. In it they claimed that “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American(s)…throughout the region.” This ostensibly defensive action is not without its repercussions. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has praised Soleimani calling him a martyr, while vowing revenge  against the United States. Soleimani’s popularity in Iran has led to more distaste for Americans. His funeral was one of the largest in Iran’s history. Some supporters used this as a platform to express their hatred toward the United States using various chants. 

With the ever present influence of the internet, the severity of this conflict has been escalated, even if only slightly. World War III has been trending, being both honestly talked about and joked about. While there is precedent that an assassination can cause a World War (Franz Ferdinand’s assassination catapulted World War I into action) it is unlikely that the killing of Qasem Soleimani would have the same effect. Still, this is a serious issue with the international affairs of the United States, especially with the already present conflict in the Middle East that has been going on for decades. 

As President Trump’s first term in office comes to a close, this conflict will be a large factor in the 2020 election. Trump and his administration must effectively respond for a re-election. Presidential hopefuls will need to address this issue as well. Specifically, this conflict will be talked about in the Democratic Party’s televised debate on January 14th. Regardless of who is in office in 2021, the escalating conflict in the Middle East and with other foreign powers, needs to be addressed.