U.S. – Iran Tensions Escalate


Photo provided by: Fars News Agency

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and other Iranian leaders at the funeral of Quasem Soleimani on Jan. 6.

Porter Huyck, Staff Reporter

The United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran have historically been at odds with one another as powerful players in the Middle East. Tensions have been mounting steadily since the Trump Administration’s decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran deal, and implement economy wrecking sanctions in May 2018. U.S.-Iran conflict has heated up dramatically in the past two weeks.  

On Dec. 27, a rocket attack on a joint U.S.-Iraq base killed one U.S. civilian contractor, which U.S. officials blamed on Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian backed militia group. In response, the U.S. launched airstrikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah across the region, killing at least 25 militia members. 

In response to the American airstrikes, on Dec. 31, members and supporters of Iranian-backed militias stormed the U.S. Embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran, where they started fires and defaced property, but failed to breach the inner defenses of the embassy before leaving on Jan. 1. 

On Jan. 3, the U.S. launched an airstrike on vehicles transporting several Iranian military leaders as they departed Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. The strike killed 10 people, most notably Quasem Soleimani, designated by several governments as a terrorist and the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, as well as key coordinator of Iranian military and intelligence operations in the Middle East. Soleimani was an essential figure in the Iranian military and has been compared in importance to top American generals and intelligence personnel. The United States government has claimed that Soleimani was an imminent threat to the U.S. and that the strike was meant to serve as a deterrent against future action. 

Four days later on, Jan. 7, Iran launched a missile attack on two joint U.S.-Iraqi bases at Erbil and Al-Assad airbase in Iraq, though both the U.S. and Iraq report that there were no casualties. The following day, Jan. 8, President Donald Trump gave an address announcing that the United States is willing to seek peace with Iran and that no further escalation will be forthcoming. Since the missile attack on Jan. 7, no further military action has been taken by either side. 

On Jan. 10, the Trump Administration announced new sanctions on 8 senior Iranian officials and several sectors of the Iranian economy including mining, construction and manufacturing, as well as specific steel and iron manufacturers. 

This is a developing story.