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Seven days in January: War, Twitter and Iran

Aggression: A man celebrates in Tehran, Iran, on January 8 after the country launched missiles at United States bases in Iraq. Photo: CNS

A DEADLY game of cat and mouse on Twitter so far has narrowly avoided sparking full-scale war between the United States and Iran over seven days in January.

United States President Donald Trump moved first.

He posted an image without caption of a US flag on Twitter, which confirmed the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3.

Mr Trump found himself on the receiving end of an Iranian flag without caption five days later posted on Twitter by Saeed Jalili, a representative of the Iranian supreme leader.

Iran had launched a ballistic missile strike at two United States airbases in southern Iraq on January 8 in retaliation for the assassination.

No US casualties were reported in the strike.

And with Mr Trump offering a calming tweet – “all is fine” – Twitter, like the night sky over Iran, fell momentarily quiet. 

But only hours later, hash-tags erupted again as news arose of the crash of a Ukranian International Airlines Boeing 737-800, which killed all 176 people on board.

Eyewitness footage of missiles and explosions and international condemnation of Iranian involvement circulated widely; it was led by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who “had proof” Iran was involved.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stood by Mr Trudeau’s claims.

After days denying involvement, Iran admitted their air defence, monitoring for US counter-attack, shot down the commercial flight. 

Iran admitted the aircraft had flown close to a “sensitive military centre”, and “human error” forced by “US adventurism” was to blame for shooting the plane down.

Among those killed on the flight were 82 Iranians and 57 Canadians, mostly Iranian-Canadians.

Protesters gathered in unprecedented numbers in Tehran and other cities in response, calling for the resignation of senior officials responsible for the deaths.  

While the game of cat and mouse had ended, many caught in the crossfire were left to pick up the pieces, none more so than the Iraqi people.

CNS reported Chaldean Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis had called for an end to foreign troops using their shattered homeland as a battlefield.

“We are fed up with all kinds of troubles and war,” Archbishop Mirkis said.

“We don’t want this anymore. 

“Especially, the demonstrations in Baghdad are telling those who are with Iran or with America: ‘Let us live in peace’.”

Pope Francis addressed the US-Iranian tensions too, describing it as most “troubling”.

He led pilgrims in prayers for peace and greater dialogue at St Peter’s Square on January 5.

“War only brings death and destruction,” the Pontiff said.

“I call on all parties to keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-control and avoid the shadow of enmity.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter that Iran sought no further escalation or war, but would defend itself against further aggression. 

It is yet unclear what will come of the Iranian-US nuclear talks; Mr Trump has insisted Iran would never get their hands on nuclear weapons.

On Monday, an Australian warship HMAS Toowoomba set sail to Iran as part of Operation Manitou.

There, 190 Australian sailors would join an American-led coalition in the Strait of Hormuz to protect strategic oil interests.

It was accusations that Iran was behind two separate attacks against those oil interests that escalated international tensions back in June 2019. 

Written by: Joe Higgins
Catholic Church Insurance

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