Who was Qassem Soleimani? What are the implications of his death at the hands of a US airstrike this past Thursday? In today’s podcast discussion JB Shreve is joined by Jonathan Webster and Jerusha Gittlen. You have heard the pundits and the polarization. This discussion aims to find a balanced perspective on this historical event and also considers how people of faith can avoid being sucked into the Twitterati mob.
Is the US going to war with Iran? This might be the wrong question. Iran will not seek out a conventional war with the US. A conventional war would position the US in unquestionable superiority. The fact is, the war between the US and Iran may have started some time ago and we just didn’t realize it.
The Timeline of Events in Iran that Few are Talking About
- In Iraq, widespread protests surge throughout November and into December. Hundreds are killed in the protests. More than ten thousand are injured. The protesters are rising up against corruption in their government and, importantly, widespread Iranian influence in Iraq.
- In the final weeks of November widespread protests spread across Iran. The Iranian government says more than a hundred Iranian protesters were killed by government forces. Amnesty International says the death count is likely much higher. According to the Associated Press, this is “the deadliest unrest to hit the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.” The protests are the result of economic despair being felt in Iran. That economic despair is being brought on by US sanctions on Iran.
- In the second week of December 2019, a massive cyberattack hits the Iranian banking system. More than 15 million accounts are stolen and published online. The US has not taken credit for the attacks but the Iranian government has strongly suggested this was a plot by the US government following Iran’s crackdown on protesters. One of the largest cyberattacks in history, Stuxnet was previously carried out by Israel and the US against Iran between 2005 and 2010.
- In the final days of December and the first days of January, protesters lay siege to the American Embassy in Baghdad. Much of the mainstream media in the US mistakenly refer to these protesters as Iraqi protesters. In fact, they were Iranian militias. The Iraqi protesters present since November were violently pushed back by government forces while these Iranian protesters were allowed to approach the embassy. It is only in recent days that the mainstream media has begun to correctly report what many reporters on the ground in Baghdad were stating regarding the identity of these protesters from the very beginning.
- January 3, 2020 Qassem Soleimani killed by a US airstrike at the Baghdad airport.
This is a timeline from the last 8 weeks and it demonstrates a progressive escalation of conflict between Iran and the US. That progression can be traced all the way to the beginning of 2018.
Links Referenced in this Episode:
- 60 Words (Radiolab)
- The History of Iran and the Next War (Podcast Series)
- The Shia Crescent
- Qassem Soleimani, Master of Iran’s Intrigue, Built a Shiite Axis of Power in the Middle East (NYT)