If you’ve seen World War III trending across social media, you’re probably feeling a little bit worried right now. And who can blame you?
But is the world really heading for another huge war?
Tensions between the US and Iran have been brewing for years. But the election of president Trump has seen a sharp escalation of both rhetoric and actions from both sides.
What happened this time?
Following an attack on the US embassy in Iraq, which America has blamed on Iran, the US launched airstrikes against Iran. Qassem Soleimani, who leads Iran’s elite Quds force, was killed in what was deemed by the US as “defensive action.” Iran called the move "state terrorism". The killing has further escalated tensions with Iran, and it remains to be seen how they’ll respond.
Is World War III really on the horizon?
Over the next few days, we’ll likely here a lot of different opinions on what’s going to happen next. Foreign issues can be unpredictable, particularly when someone like Trump is in the White House.
The former UK ambassador to Lebanon said that the crucial question is what happened next. Though he did suggest that Soleimani was a "much more powerful figure than Osama bin Laden or Baghdadi, where at the moment of their own deaths, their power was in decline."
Former UK Ambassador to Lebanon on the US killing of Qasem Soleimani. The what happens next question. https://t.co/eHKSWTw2xR
In a statement that was lacking in much detail, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that further conflict is in "none of our interests".
We have always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani. Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests.
So are we heading for another war?
The simple answer is: we don’t know – yet. What is clear, though, is that this latest escalation isn’t isolated, it’s been building for years. Trump has talked a big talk before (remember his "fire and fury" remarks about North Korea?) but this feels new.
Just three days into the new decade, it’s clear that war is a distinct possibility.