Are we on the brink of World War Three?

It hasn’t been the most promising start to the new year and decade. We all thought the horrors of the Australian fires were problem enough; little did we know Trump had plans to steal the limelight! With the assassination of Iranian general Qasam Soleimani, there is fresh tension in a region already fraught with difficulty—difficulty in which the United States has long played a part. So what happens now? Are we really on the brink of World War Three? 


The story so far

On arriving at the Baghdad International Airport with his convoy on the third of January, Qasam Soleimani was assassinated by a missile attack from American drones. Donald Trump ordered this without informing Congress, attracting condemnation from a number of world leaders, with even the UN suggesting the assassination was ‘likely unlawful’. Trump, of course, took to Twitter to justify his actions with his usual acerbic language. The US Department of Defense statement worded things a little better, indicating the assassination was retaliation for previous attacks including that at the Baghdad U.S. Embassy, and to deter future planned attacks against Americans.


Photo via Wikipedia


Well, where do we start? Soleimani was beloved across many countries in the Middle East. His death was publically mourned for three days with images filling our screens of large crowds in Baghdad, Tehran, Qom, Mashhad, and Ahvaz, in anguish at losing such a formidable leader. All kinds of threats of retaliation have followed, from Soleimani’s daughter promising the U.S. dark days ahead, to an alleged $80 million bounty for Trump’s head. Fears of tensions between Iran and Israel have been heightened, and although some feel these fears are unfounded, Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal appears to now be in jeopardy, which surely is a concern for us all.

The #WWIII hashtag exploded with, amongst other things, World War Three memes. America’s Selective Service System became overwhelmed with hits from Americans fearing they would now be drafted. Trump threatened a disproportionate response if anyone retaliated for the assassination. Trump’s Tweets from 2011 and 2012 claiming Obama would start a war with Iran to get re-elected have been plastered across our news for days, while some speculate the convenience of this Iran crisis with the timing of Trump’s impeachment. Iranians and Iranian-Americans report harassment and hours of detainment at U.S. Border Control. The list of events goes on and on; the fallout from Soleimani’s assassination is going to continue for some time to come.


Photo via Wikimedia


Forming a balanced opinion

The language surrounding this incident is inflammatory and frightening, particularly when we view news from only one source. It also provokes a selfish response when we don’t think beyond what might happen to us; while we’re busy making World War Three memes to get attention on Twitter, are we actually sparing a single thought for Iranians living with this new nightmare?

To truly understand what is happening, we need to adopt critical thinking, to weed out propaganda from real news. It is impossible to form an unbiased opinion otherwise; of course American newspapers are going to paint a picture wildly different from newspapers elsewhere. Our first port of call, then, is to look at some of the most popular newspapers in Iran, to hear their perspective. 

The Financial Tribune is Iran’s first economic daily newspaper solely in English, and a good place to start your research. This piece on Soleimani’s funeral already has a very different tone to that reported in ‘western’ news. 

Donyaye Eqtesad is one of Iran’s most widely circulated newspapers. Even with an imperfect translation, it is clear once again the vastly different language used reporting Soleimani’s funeral in Iran to elsewhere. In addition, this article on Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal and the response of European leaders is another good read to gain a better perspective on what might happen going forward.


Photo via Pixabay


Language barriers

Unless you speak Persian, reading the majority of Iran’s newspapers is going to require reliance on a translation service. There are many available, though Google Translate is by far the most comprehensive. Click on the Google Translate symbol in your search bar to translate full articles, or if you have the extension already you can highlight and right-click short sections for quick translations. You can also use Google Translate for individual ‘keywords’ that might appear in articles, by copying and pasting the Persian translation directly into a newspaper’s search engine.

The other answer is, obviously, to learn Persian so you can read all of these articles for yourself! Learning languages is crucial to better understand our volatile world; perhaps now more than ever. 

We have some difficult times ahead; why not prepare yourself for them with a tailormade course with one of our native speaking tutors who can design a programme of study to suit your needs? Drop us a quick enquiry to see how our courses work.