Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and U.S. President Donald Trump found themselves embroiled in a meme war long before the military leader was placed in the lethal crosshairs of a U.S. drone.
Soleimani, commander of the country’s elite Quds Force, was killed in Baghdad early Friday in part over claims that the Iranian was planning attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.
The assassination, however, was not the first time Soleimani showed up on Trump’s radar. Although the president appeared to have zero knowledge of the general in 2015, Trump undoubtedly knew Soleimani by 2018, when the Iranian attempted to start a meme-based internet feud.
The incident began in July of that year when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
The comment outraged Trump, who proceeded to unleash an all caps response on Twitter.
“To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” Trump said.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
The tweet caught the attention of Soleimani, who responded to Trump several days later in a statement released by Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
“It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you,” Soleimani said. “If you begin the war, we will end the war. You know that this war will destroy all that you possess.”
Not long after, Soleimani posted an image to his now-deleted Instagram account that showed the White House in flames.
“We will crush the USA under our feet,” text on the photo read.
New CJL Report: IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, Designated By U.S. Treasury Dept., Is Active On Instagram; Posts Include Image Of White House Exploding https://t.co/9jP83VDsQ5 pic.twitter.com/ui8WA2is6z
— Steve Stalinsky (@SteveStalinsky) August 17, 2018
Months later, in November, following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Trump posted a Game of Thrones-inspired meme warning that “SANCTIONS ARE COMING.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
Soleimani responded with his own Game of Thrones-style meme aimed directly at Trump the following day.
“I WILL STAND AGAINST YOU,” the meme said.
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (#IRGC) #Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani responded to #US President Donald Trump’s announcement that ‘sanctions are coming’ with a Game of Thrones-inspired meme of his ownhttps://t.co/336UFrTL8E pic.twitter.com/5uh1qtQPMB
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) November 3, 2018
While it’s unclear who won the internet meme battle, Soleimani clearly lost the real-world war. And although memes are primarily used by political trolls, the Trump era has brought the tactic to the highest reaches of government.
In the wake of Soleimani’s death, Iran has vowed “revenge” on the U.S. In turn, Trump has ordered thousands of troops to the region as fears of an all-out war loom.
- Jacob Wohl says he’ll still enlist if U.S. goes to war with Iran
- The World War 3 memes are here—and they’re dark
- Trump didn’t know who Qassem Soleimani was when he ran for president