Questions About the Iran-U.S. Conflict You May Have Been Too Afraid to Ask

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 11.03.03

By: Janvi Amin


The events of the past couple weeks have shocked not only America, but the world. “WWIII” was the most popular hashtag on Twitter this New Year’s Day and videos have spread around the internet on the topic. But what happened? 


1) Why did the US kill Qassem Soleimani?

Trump’s decision to kill Qassem Soleimani, who led the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force and is responsible for hundreds of American deaths in the region, was the culmination of a week of violence. It was a significant escalation in the US-Iran standoff, which so far had seen damage done to ships, oil fields, and military equipment, but not people. The American’s death crossed the Trump administration’s red line that any attacks on Americans would lead to a forceful US response, and Trump followed through.

2) Why aren’t the US and Iran on good terms? A Brief Timeline 

The tensions between Iran and the United States stretch back decades, well predating the Trump administration. 

1953 Overthrow of Mossadeq - US and British intelligence agencies orchestrate a coup to oust Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq. The secular leader had sought to nationalize Iran's oil industry. 

1979 Iranian Revolution - The US-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, is forced to leave the country following months of demonstrations and strikes against his rule by secular and religious opponents. Two weeks later, Islamic religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile. Following a referendum, the Islamic Republic of Iran is proclaimed on 1 April.

1979-81 US Embassy Hostage Crisis - The US embassy in Tehran is seized by protesters in November

1985-86 Iran-Contra scandal - The US secretly ships weapons to Iran, allegedly in exchange for Tehran's help in freeing US hostages held by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. 

1988 Iranian passenger plane shot down - The American warship USS Vincennes shoots down an Iran Air flight in the Gulf on July 3rd, killing all 290 people on board. The US says the Airbus A300 was mistaken for a fighter jet.

2002 "Axis of Evil" - In his State of the Union address, President George Bush denounces Iran as part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and North Korea. The speech causes outrage in Iran.

2000s Nuclear fears and sanctions - In 2002, an Iranian opposition group reveals that Iran is developing nuclear facilities including a uranium enrichment plant.


3)What happened with that Ukrainian plane crash?

Iran may not have killed US troops in its retaliatory strikes in Iraq on Tuesday night, but it did say it accidentally killed civilians: the 176 passengers of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.


4) Is there going to be a World War III?

The US says it is "ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations" with Iran following the countries' exchange of hostilities. In a letter to the United Nations, the US justified the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani as an act of self-defense. Iran retaliated by firing missiles at airbases housing US forces in Iraq, causing no casualties. Iran also told the UN it was an act of self-defense. In the letter to the UN Security Council, US ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said the US was ready to negotiate "with the goal of preventing further endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime."

     Students all over the country are anxious about the possibility of another world war, but through social media such as Twitter and TikTok, it can be seen that it is mostly being taken as a joke. Funny videos and pictures have been released joking about how Gen Z will act during a possible war. Senior Hannah Chacon commented, “I hope there’s no draft since college is starting soon.”