Aftermath of Soleimani killing leaves countries tense, students conflicted


Ninara, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Haze clouds the skyline of Tehran, Iran's capital and largest city. More than a week after the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3, 2020 ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump, local Iranian students feel conflicted about the situation.

By Lucas Barr, Liberty High School - TX

The Trump administration is targeting Iran with sanctions, days after Iran fired missiles at a U.S. occupied base in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone attack that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. As the situation begins to settle, Iranians in Frisco are conflicted about the situation.

Sophomore Kimia Bordbar, having moved to Texas from Iran last year, fears a larger conflict will ensue and hopes the U.S. and Iran will be able to deescalate the situation.

“I’m pretty sure that everyone’s concern is a war happening,” Bordbar said. “Iran is my mother country and America is the country that I live and I like love to live here. I really wish these two countries would have a good political situation with each other.”

One Iranian-American student that wished to remain anonymous is frustrated by the situation, but believes that Iran’s decision to resume its nuclear program in response will not be a problem.

“I believe the Soleimani killing was an impulsive decision and an extremely risky move, the Trump administration put too many lives in danger and escalated tensions, even if the general was a bad person,” the student said. “Iran resuming their nuclear program isn’t a threat to us unless it has to be. The country is prepared to retaliate against any actions and we should be strong as a nation and thoughtful with our moves.”

Wanting Iran and the U.S. to avoid a path of violence, the threat of a war erupting leaves the student worried about her family.

“I’m concerned for the people of Iran and for our [the U.S.] military,” she said. “The rising tensions between my family’s native country and my home country has a bigger effect than just politics alone. Socially, it’s creating huge stigma, huge misconceptions, and a lot of worry and fear. I believe if the two countries just left each other alone and stopped poking the bear, both would be safer. I hope to see a peaceful relationship between the countries, possibly sanctions lifted and although they may never be total allies, I would just hope for an agreement to drop the tensions and stay away from each other.”

Delivering a presentation on the rocky relations between Iran and its neighbors for his students on Monday and Tuesday, AP World History teacher Jeff Crowe explains that tension between Iran and America’s Sunni allies have been centuries in the making.

“In the 16th Century, the Shia Muslims were aligned with the Safavid Empire, and the Sunni Muslims were aligned with the Ottomans,” Crowe said. “There’s always been that tension, and that conflict that erupted in battles and wars between the two groups. For the last 500 years, it’s continued until today. History is woven over time, and those who appreciate and understand and study history, can see the connections and they can see the bigger picture. It’s wonderful to see those kids that have the a-ha moments like, ‘Oh, that’s why this is the way it is.’”

Following the drone strike that killed Soleimani, social media erupted with users posting about a potential World War III and a draft. Crowe recognizes the fear of many students, but believes Soleimani’s killing will not spell another great war.

I see some parallels in that the assassination, or killing of one individual could spark a global conflict, but I also think that it is a different geopolitical dynamic now.”

— AP World History teacher Jeff Crowe

“I see some parallels in that the assassination, or killing of one individual could spark a global conflict, but I also think that it is a different geopolitical dynamic now. [Compared to] the alliance system that existed in WW I or WW II, I don’t think the assassination of one person would bring everybody into a global conflict. It’s important to understand although, that the kids have never experienced a true total war, and we’ve been at war for the last 18 years in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that seems very distant to them. But if we were actually in a global, world war conflict that affected everyone’s lives, I think they would have a different take.”

With tensions still high, despite Trump stating he is ready for peace “with all that seek it,” Crowe believes that diplomacy should be the first answer to the conflict.

“I think that the career professional diplomats who have expertise in keeping relations between countries on a positive footing need to be supported,” Crowe said. “That’s something that we need to invest in as supposed to use violence as our first instinct. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and we’ll get out of this little conflict quickly.”

This story was originally published on Wingspan on January 14, 2020.