On January 3rd, 2020, Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed at Baghdad International Airport by a US air drone strike personally approved by US President Donald Trump. The general was considered a military hero by many in Iran. Soleimani however, as one of the country's most powerful men as well as the head of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, was distrusted by the US Government who consider the force to be an overseas terrorist organization.
The strike was ordered in Baghdad a few days earlier. The Pentagon has defended the assassination by stating that Soleimani had approved the attacks and was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.''
This is not the first recent conflict of note between the two countries. In 2018, Donald Trump and the US Government withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action. Trump stated his reason for leaving was that “the Iran deal is defective at its core” and that “it didn't bring calm, it didn't bring peace, and it never will.” The recent base bombing and assassination of Soleimani are sure to increase tensions between these two longstanding adversaries.
On February 9th, 2020, Iranian telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi announced the failed launch of scientific observations satellite, Zafar, which hoped to collect imagery data to study earthquakes and natural disasters. Iran’s space agency says the 113kg device was launched into orbit via Simorgh rocket.
Zafar’s launch comes during elevated tensions between the United States and Iran, with the US raising concerns stating “the launch of a carrier rocket in January 2019 amounted to a violation of curbs on its development of ballistic missiles.”
In days leading, Iranian officials have been promoting the launch, with minister Jahromi being an active front runner. With rising popularity, it is speculated that Jahromi will be a candidate for Iran’s upcoming election.
In a Twitter post, Jahromi acknowledged the unsuccessful launch saying, “sometimes life does not go the way we like it to go.” also adding, “But We’re UNSTOPPABLE! We have more Upcoming Great Iranian Satellites!”
New York Times, “Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned”,
by Mark Landler, may 8 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/middleeast/trump-iran-nuclear-deal.html
CNN, “Who was Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian commander killed by a US airstrike?”
By Nectar Gan, january 3, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/03/asia/soleimani-profile-intl-hnk/index.html
BBC news, “Iran Nuclear crisis in 300 words, “
January 14, 2020,
Aljazeera “Iran counts down to launch of new satellite,”
February 9, 2020
The Washington Post “Iran again fails to put satellite into orbit amid US worries”
February 9, 2020
Nikkei Asian Review "Iran fires ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops"
January 8, 2020. Photo from Nikkei montage/AP