In the last week, the news about Middle-East were fast and, unfortunately, furious. Tensions between the US and Iran escalated as the US killed the top Iranian general in an airstrike in Baghdad, capital of Iraq. We knew some of you were worriedly following the news, so we decided to post this short article and share what the situation looks like here and answer some of the questions you might have.
Let’s start with the obvious. Iran and Iraq are two entirely different countries but with a lot in common. Once severe adversaries, the two countries grown increasingly aligned in recent years as Iran helped the Iraqis fight ISIS. Iran has also moved to strengthen economic and religious ties with Iraq, further deepening their relationship. After, the US-Iraq war which led to the downfall of Saddam Hosein (former Iraqi dictator) American militaries have been actively present in the Middle-East under the title of fUighting ISIS and keeping the region peaceful. However, most local people have been skeptical about the real intentions of the foreign troops and whether they would really be able to protect the peace.
During recent years, there were numerous tensions between the American troops and the religious Iraqi militias mostly supported by Iran. The tensions were nothing extraordinary until Jan, 2, 2020. Iranian top military general, Qasem Suleimani, had just arrived in Iraq when an American drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport killing him along with several Iranian and Iraqi military officials. The US blamed him for actively plotting against the security of the US troops and claimed the attack was a means of prevention from further attacks. However, after the attacks, top Iranian authorities vowed “hard revenge” as the country mourned the death of General Suleimani. On the other side, Trump who was under enormous domestic and international pressures for endangering the peace in the region, did not step back and claimed they’ll hardly respond to any retaliation.
When we woke up to the news this morning, we learned that, during the midnight (local time), Iran had targeted two military bases in Iraq hosting US troops. It was big news but the silver lining was that Iranian Foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted early in the morning that Iran “took proportionate measures in self-defense” and that they are not seeking escalation or war. Following the attacks, Trump tweeted “All is well!” which was taken by many analysts as a positive sign that he is not willing to escalate the situation either.
Read about Ukraine airplane crash in Iran happened on Jan. 8th
What will happen next?
We learned from a few travelers who were misinformed and had thought that the US’s terrorist attacks were conducted in Iran. This is absolutely wrong and as we mentioned, the attacks were all in Iraq _ hundreds of miles away from any major city in Iran. We admit such misinformation in not unlikely given the countries are not only geographical neighbors but also orthographic neighbors (i.e. there is only one letter difference between the two words Iraq and Iran) which makes it difficult for many to distinguish them. Interestingly, the other day I was listening to CBC’s World Report as they were talking about the tensions between Iran and the US, and I found myself struggling to make sure if I was hearing the right country name. Things get more complicated when many English speakers pronounce Iran as “E-ran” (rhyming with “HE ran.”), or even “I-ran” (like “Eye ran.”) which are both wrong and the correct pronunciation is “E-run” (rhyming with “HE run.”).
After all, it’s essentially impossible to predict what will come next in this chaotic world. We do not what will happen tomorrow, but we do know one things for sure; Iran is as safe as it was and that no explosion, terrorist attack, or military conflict has happened!