The targeted killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by the US has dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the Mideast as concerns mount over retaliation by Tehran. The American action has roiled global markets, hitting stock futures and energy prices.
Here is everything that you should know about the events following the US killing of the powerful Iranian general.
Spike in Oil Prices
Oil prices surged 3 percent on Friday following Soleimani’s killing. The markets are concerned about a bigger conflict between the US and Iran that could disrupt energy production in the Middle East. International benchmark Brent crude gained $2.42, or 3.6 percent, to trade at $68.67, after earlier trading as high as $69.50. The US West Texas Intermediate gained $1.87, or 3 percent, to settle at $63.05 per barrel, reported CNBC.
Dow dropped the most in a month after the US airstrike. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 233.92 points lower, or 0.6 percent, at 28,634.88 and posted its biggest one-day loss since early December. The S&P 500 also had its worst day in a month, sliding 0.7 percent to 3,234.85. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.8 percent to 9,020.77.
Iran Threatened a "Forceful Revenge"
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed “harsh retaliation" after the airstrike, calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.” Khamenei declared three days of public mourning and appointed major general Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani's deputy, to replace him as head of the Quds Force.
US Urges Americans To Flee
The US government urged Americans to flee Baghdad, as Iraqi lawmakers worked on legislation asking US troops to leave. The State Department said the embassy in Baghdad, which was attacked by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters earlier this week, is closed and all consular services have been suspended.
US to send More Troops to the Middle East
Roughly 3,500 members of the 82nd Airborne have been deployed to Kuwait. The US said that it was sending thousands of more troops to the region as tensions soared in the wake of the killing. Around 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq to train Iraqi forces and help in the fight against Islamic State militants.
Trump Says the US Does Not Seek War But Ready To Act
In Florida, President Donald Trump said he does not want regime change and "we did not take action to start a war." In brief remarks to the nation, Trump said the Iranian general had been plotting “imminent and sinister” attacks. Trump called Soleimani a ruthless figure who “made the death of innocent people his sick passion. We take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over."
The president warned Iran against retaliating. He said the US military has Iranian targets “fully identified” for counter-retaliation. The US has a wide range of offensive and defensive forces in the Gulf area within the range of Iran.
What About Possible Retaliation by Iran?
Cyberattacks are a possibility, according to security experts. Iran’s state-backed hackers are already among the world’s most aggressive and could inject malware that triggers major disruptions to the US public and private sector.