President Donald Trump’s decision to authorize an airstrike on General Quasem Soleimani was impulsive and wrong for the United States and its safety. However, the accidental missile strike of a Ukranian passenger plane by Iran seems to have shifted the focus away from Soleimani’s death—for now.
Iranian citizens seemed to prove loyal to their government when Soleimani, a major general in Iran, was killed by the U.S. military on Jan. 3 after Trump’s authorization. On the day of his funeral, millions of mourners filled the streets, according to state-run television.
The people of Iran, whether they were nationalistic or subversive, came together to express fear and sadness for their country.
Soleimani had been closely watched by the U.S. for years and was purposely left untouched because of the fear that killing him would upend U.S.–Iran relations.
The conflict the airstrike caused was what previous administrations had avoided for so long. With this tension lingering heavy over Iran, they were quick to shoot down the first sign of threat, which sadly, ended up being no threat at all.
Five days after Soleimani’s assassination, a Ukrainian passenger plane flying over Iran was shot down during a missle strike on a U.S. base in Iraq. The Iranian government initially denied responsibility for the incident; three days later, they admitted to being at fault for the accident.
This immediately changed Iranians’ relationship with their government, which they had just connected with so deeply over Soleimani’s death. Iranian citizens grew furious at the Iranian government for shooting down the passenger plane. Ukraine alleged that Iran wouldn’t have ever admitted to the fault if not having investigated the plane wreckage themselves, according to The New York Times.
The incident proved to be a reason for Iranians to mistrust their supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and their government altogether.
Instead of crowds of people in the street weeping together, there were crowds of people outraged at the incident and how their government was handling it. Many people throughout cities in Iran grouped together to protest, some even shouting “Khamenei is a murderer!” according to The New York Times.
Iran started out with immense support after Soleimani’s death; but when that mistake was made, that support was lost. Without the tragedy of the Ukrainian plane crash in Iran, there may have been more room for a U.S.–Iran conflict to occur much quicker than either country could handle.
However, had the U.S. showed restraint in the assasination of Soleimani, this tragedy would never have happened.