If you woke up today, and the first thing you did was check your twitter feed like the social media addicts we all are, you probably came across a disturbing trending topic #WorldWarIII, and wondered what the hell is going on.
Here’s a break down of what we know so far.
Trump ordered an air strike that killed Qasem Soleimani.
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump authorized an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport that killed Qasem Soleimani, the pentagon confirmed on Thursday saying it was “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad” that was intended to deter “future Iranian attack plans.”
The tension between the US and Iran has been brewing for years, but since Trump’s election there’s been an escalation of events from both sides. The assassination of Qasem Soleimani pushes things to an extreme.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force, was also killed in the attack early Friday morning local time, according to a statement from the PMF, which said the pair “were martyred by an American strike.”
Who is Qasem Soleimani?
Soleimani is the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit, he’s believed to be the second most powerful figure in Iran. He’s a key figure in Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), credited for his instrumental role in the two countries’ fight against ISIL (ISIS).
Under Soleimani’s leadership, the Quds Force were able to expand its capabilities, becoming a significant influence in intelligence, financial, and political spheres beyond Iran’s border, according to AlJazeera.
He was instrumental in the spread of Iranian influence in the Middle East, which the United States and Tehran’s regional foes Saudi Arabia and Israel have struggled to keep in check.
How Does Iran & The World Feel About His Death?
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei paid tribute to him as a “martyr” and promised to exact “harsh revenge”. A three-day national mourning period in honour of Soleimani has been announced.
The pure blood of Qassem Soleimani will surely strengthen the tree of resistance, unite the Iranian people, and make US policies in the region less effective by the day, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said as he condemned the killing.
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to mourn the death of Soleimani and protest against the US.
The European Council has urged all sides to avoid further escalation of violence in Iraq. In a statement its president, Charles Michel, said: “The cycle of violence, provocations and retaliations which we have witnessed In Iraq over the past few weeks has to stop. Further escalation must be avoided at all cost. Iraq remains a very fragile country. Too many weapons and too many militias are slowing the process towards a return to normal daily life for Iraq’s citizens. The risk is a generalised flare-up of violence in the whole region and the rise of obscure forces of terrorism that thrive at times of religious and nationalist tensions.“
Oil prices rise after Soleimani’s death
Oil prices have risen sharply following Soleimani’s death. The price of Brent crude – one of the main benchmarks used for prices–jumped by more than 4% to hit $69.50 (£53.17) a barrel at one point–the highest price since September.
Soleimani Is Buried
An unbelievable turn out as Iranians took to the streets of Baghdad for the funeral procession. Mourning the death of the top general in the Iraqi capital ended yesterday evening with a series of rockets that were launched and fell inside or near the Green Zone, which houses government offices and foreign embassies, including the U.S. Embassy according to reports.
Soleimani’s body is to be flown to Kerman, Soleimani’s hometown, after the ceremony in Tehran to be buried at Golzar Shohada (Garden of Martyrs) Cemetery according to his will.
Is World War 3 Happening?
So far the answer is no, but the death of such a powerful figure is sure to cause a drastic ripple effect from Iran against the US and it’s allies.
The World War 3 tag started trending from tweets about the airstrike using memes to joke about the situation. Searches for ‘World War 3’ also spiked on Google within hours of the airstrike in Iraq overnight.
Google Trends recorded ‘Iran’ as the second most searched term in the United States, with more than 500,000 searches for the topic.
Here’s some of our favorite tweets & Instagram posts: