The president tweeted an image of himself over a blueish-gray background with the words "Sanctions are Coming November 5," the day US sanctions against Iran related to the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran Nuclear Deal, go into effect.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 2, 2018
The meme is a reference to the hit fantasy book series and HBO show "Game of Thrones," which is weird because everybody knows that the real-life equivalent of "Game of Thrones" is Iran's regional foe, the Saudi royal family.
In the show, winter is an unpredictable phenomenon that ushers in armies of White Walkers, or zombies. A protagonist family on the show, House Stark, uses the motto "Winter is Coming" as a message of preparedness — and also a warning. The phrase is also used in the show's marketing.
Some Twitter users who are, presumably, fans of the show pointed out the meme's irony. The National Iranian American Council tweeted that "Donald Trump is a literal White Walker, fear-mongering, war-mongering and championing division at every opportunity for political gain."
— NIAC (@NIACouncil) November 2, 2018
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) November 2, 2018
— Bill Weir (@BillWeirCNN) November 2, 2018
Another Twitter user invoked the character Littlefinger to mock Trump for his allegedly tiny hands. One person who replied to that included a screenshot of the character Lord Varys referring to Littlefinger, saying "he would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes."
— Jemaine Clement (@AJemaineClement) November 2, 2018
— Jawn Cougar Mellencamp (@MTKinger215) November 2, 2018
Others didn't bother referencing the show — and apparently didn't need to, in order to mock Trump's physical attributes.
Washington Post reporter John Hudson said he wondered how HBO feels about becoming "part of Trump's maximum pressure campaign against Iran."
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) November 2, 2018
HBO, for its part, tweeted, "How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?" referring to the language of a nomadic people in the series. "We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes," HBO told CNBC.
— HBO (@HBO) November 2, 2018
Palestinian poet Remi Kanazi tweeted that he is "assuming [Trump is] talking about Saudi Arabia and Israel."
— Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) November 2, 2018
Others took the opportunity to bring up Trump's history as a reality TV show host.
— MintPress News (@MintPressNews) November 2, 2018
— Nida Khan (@NidaKhanNY) November 2, 2018
— John Donker (@JohnDonker) November 2, 2018
A good number of Twitter users saw the chance to ridicule the use of sanctions as brutal, inhumane and, in this case, against international law.
— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) November 2, 2018
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 2, 2018
— Adnan Tabatabai (@A_Tabatabai) November 2, 2018
— Sharmine Narwani (@snarwani) November 2, 2018
Richard Nephew, a senior nonresident fellow at the neoconservative Brookings Institute and former lead sanctions expert and director for Iran on former President Barack Obama's National Security Council, didn't tweet about how sanctions are wrong. After all, he wrote a book in 2017 called "The Art of Sanctions." To Nephew, the only thing wrong about Trump sanctioning Iran is that he derives "joy," from it, whereas the Obama alumni merely "took pride."
— Richard Nephew (@RichardMNephew) November 2, 2018
— Arash Karami (@thekarami) November 2, 2018
— serious political scientist (@HongPong) November 2, 2018
Israel's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, was overjoyed by the meme, thanking Trump for "restoring sanctions against an Iranian regime that vows and works to destroy the Jewish state."
— Amb. Ron Dermer (@AmbDermer) November 2, 2018
Some Twitter users who are more creatively inclined photoshopped their own versions of the meme. The day after the sanctions are to go into effect is Election Day, when Americans vote for Congress in the midterms. One Twitter user shared a doctored version of the meme reading: "I am using the caravan to stir up my racist base, November 6."