Trump and Iranian General previously clashed using Game of Thrones memes

3 January 2020, 15:09

Donald Trump and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani previously clashed on social media
Donald Trump and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani previously clashed on social media. Picture: Twitter/Instagram

By Kate Buck

Donald Trump and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani had been engaged in a social media spat years before the US President ordered his assassination.

General Soleimani, the leader of the elite Quds force, was killed in a targeted strike at Baghdad Airport in the neighbouring Iraq in the early hours of Friday morning.

The attack has sparked international concern about tensions rising between the two nuclear powers.

Iran's defence minister has threatened the US with "crushing revenge" in retaliation for the attack, while Moscow said the move will "increase tensions throughout the region."

But back in November 2018, the pair's disputes were played out for the world to see on social media when Mr Trump posted a picture edited to look like a Game of Thrones promotional image with the words: "Sanctions are coming."

It was a reference to the phrase "Winter is coming", the motto of the Stark family in the popular HBO series.

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In retaliation, General Soleimani posted a similarly edited image to Instagram with the caption: "I will stand against you".

Although the phrase itself is not one used in the programme's eight series, he used a distinctive font associated with the brand.

At the time the image was posted, show creators HBO said in a statement: "Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes.”

Mr Trump's post was made shortly after he announced he would be reimposing a set of sanctions lifted on Iran under the Iran Nuclear deal.

Former US President Barack Obama reached the deal in 2015 - which meant billions of dollars of sanctions were removed in exchange for Iran scaling back its nuclear programme.

In May 2018, Mr Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the agreement, calling it a "horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made."

He added: “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”

In response, General Soleimani posted this on Instagram
In response, General Soleimani posted this on Instagram. Picture: Instagram

READ MORE: Qassem Soleimani: Who was the Iranian commander killed in US airstrike?

Mr Trump ordered the military to take "decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing" the 62-year-old commander this morning.

Iran's upper echelons almost immediately vowed "crushing revenge" for the assassination, which follows years of tensions between the Islamic Republic and the US.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon took a "decisive defensive action" in killing Soleimani, who Mr Esper says was planning to attack American diplomats and service members.

"This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," Sec Esper said.

He was killed in the early hours of Friday morning
He was killed in the early hours of Friday morning. Picture: PA

As a result of the attack statement, the US embassy in Iraq urged American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region.

The statement said US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi warned of the aftereffects of the strike, saying it is "a dangerous escalation that ignites a devastating war in Iraq, the region and the world."