News Digest: Week of January 6

January 6

Society: Hundreds of thousands of Iranians turned out for Qassem Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran. The head of the elite Qods Force was killed in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad’s international airport on January 3. Many mourners shouted “Death to America.” Supreme Leader Khamenei wept over the coffin. Soleimani’s successor, Esmail Ghaani, warned that Iran would take revenge. The late general’s daughter, Zeinab, lashed out against President Trump. “You crazy Trump, the symbol of ignorance, the slave of Zionists, don’t think that the killing of my father will finish everything,” she told mourners. “The families of the American soldiers in western Asia will spend their days waiting for the death of their children.”


January 8

Military: Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Soleimani. No U.S. or Iraqi personnel were harmed. Iran was quick to claim responsibility for the attack on U.S. forces. But its foreign minister also emphasized that Tehran did not seek war.

Military: President Trump said that that the damage to the al Assad and Irbil facilities was not serious. “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning,” he tweeted.


Military: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran’s ultimate goal was to expel U.S. forces from the wider Middle East. “Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region,” he said in a televised speech. As of January 2020, the United States had more than 60,000 troops deployed throughout the wider region, including Afghanistan, which borders Iran.

Economics/Diplomacy: President Trump, in a televised address, said that the United States would impose additional economic sanctions on Iran and continue to evaluate other ways to respond to the attack. He also called on the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal – Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia – to withdraw from the agreement and work toward a new, more comprehensive one. “We must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place,” he added. “The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.” But Trump also made an overture to negotiate with the Islamic Republic and suggested the two countries could work together on issues of common concern, such as ISIS.

Aviation: A Ukrainian Airlines flight departing from Tehran crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 176 passengers. The plane was reportedly engulfed in flames and then exploded during its ascent. Iranian officials initially said that the crash was likely the result of a technical malfunction, such as an engine failure. Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, Ali Abedzadeh, said that the flight’s black boxes would not be sent to Boeing for analysis.


January 10

Economics: President Trump issued an executive order authorizing sanctions against individuals and entities operating in the construction, manufacturing, textiles, or mining sectors of the Iranian economy. The U.S. Treasury also blacklisted eight senior Iranian officials, including the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani. “The United States is targeting senior Iranian officials for their involvement and complicity in Tuesday’s ballistic missile strikes,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Aviation/Military: Iran admitted that a Ukranian Airlines plane was accidently shot down by missiles during a tense standoff with the United States. The Revolutionary Guards said that the plane was mistaken for a cruise missile. “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said. “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families.” Iran said that it would prosecute those responsible for the missile strike.