Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 June 2020

'World War III' trends globally after Qassem Suleimani's assassination

The killing of Qassem Suleimani by the US prompts ominous trends on Twitter

The ominous hashtag 'WWIII' started trending shortly after the killing of Qassem Suleimani
The ominous hashtag 'WWIII' started trending shortly after the killing of Qassem Suleimani

Hours after the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard's foreign operations branch, Qassem Suleimani, was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, the gravity of the event began to come to fruition on Twitter.

The ominous "WWIII" hashtag quickly rose near the top of global Twitter trends with more than 200,000 tweets, and was followed by the phrase 'World War 3' - which also trended.

It did not, however, take the top spot on Twitter trends after Suleimani's death. "Iran" received more than 2 million mentions in tweets.

The sheer magnitude of Suleimani's assassination was immediate and piqued the curiosity of Middle East experts, journalists and analysts.

"...killing the leader of Iran's elite Quds Force is akin to Tehran murdering the head of the CIA or the Mossad on foreign soil," wrote Jack Moore, deputy foreign editor of The National.

"His death is an escalation that has surely thrown out the diplomatic and economic tit-for-tat that Tehran has been engaged in since the US president withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018," Moore added, noting the monumental killing of the Iranian spy chief.

Tensions between the US and Iran have risen when an Iranian-backed militia breached the US embassy's compound in Baghdad.

Despite the group withdrawing from the embassy after 24-hours, the deadly US strike on Suleimani came as a huge surprise, ratcheting up tensions given the unexpected nature of the strike.

The US claimed Suleimani was plotting attacks that could have endangered US citizens and military personnel around.

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In pictures: Funeral procession held for Qassem Suleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

Updated: January 5, 2020 09:53 AM

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