The killing by a US drone of one of Iran’s most senior army leaders, General Qassem Soleimani, on January 3, 2020, made an abrupt rise in tension between Tehran and Washington.
A year on, there are fears of a repeated clash in the two enemies, in the dying days of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Soleimani’s successor has warned that Iran can return to any American military pressure, while the US has flown planes over the region and sent a submarine to the Persian Gulf.
What happened a year ago?
General Qassem Soleimani had reportedly come in Iraq from Beirut and was moving in a convoy of media as it left Baghdad airport when the US drone struck.
The general was killed, along with another leader. There did fury at what was described as an ” An attack on Iraq’s sovereignty”. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called it an “act of global terrorism”, and a “dangerous and foolish escalation”.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini also vowed for “harsh retaliation”. Over the following days, the military leader’s portrait decorated the streets of Tehran. Crowds held up signs asking vengeance. The likelihood of Iran and the US going to war looked real.
What was the background of Soleimani’s killing?
A party to the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran had allowed to big reductions in its nuclear programme to lift sanctions.
But in 2018, President Trump, who had vowed to pull the US out of the agreement, acted on his word and American sanctions were reimposed.
Tehran responded by waving its consignments under the deal a year later, increasing its nuclear fuel enrichment.