Iranian’s killing, an act of war

Iranian’s killing, an act of war

The assassination of Iran’s Major-General Qasem Soleimani by the US in a drone strike outside Baghdad airport in Iraq is an irresponsible and provocative act of war.

The assassination of Iran’s Major-General Qasem Soleimani by the US in a drone strike outside Baghdad airport in Iraq is an irresponsible and provocative act of war. Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the country’s most powerful official after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. By authorising the assassination, US President Donald Trump has not only violated international and US domestic law but also brought the already volatile West Asia to the brink of an unprecedented escalation of violence. The timing of the assassination provides clues to the possible motivation underlying Trump’s decision: Trump faces an impeachment trial in the Senate and an election later this year. It is likely that his action was aimed at boosting opinion ratings at home and improving his re-election chances. As previous American presidents have found, going into a re-election campaign as a war-time leader almost always assures success.

Gen. Soleimani’s military operations in several West Asian countries had reshaped the region’s politics in ways that boosted Iranian influence there and weakened Washington’s grip and interests in the region. Scores of American security personnel did lose their lives in operations he strategised. However, he was not an Osama bin Laden or an Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, terrorist leaders whose elimination did not raise questions over the legality of the operations. Gen. Soleimani was a top general, part of the power structure of a sovereign state. His assassination is equivalent to an act of war.

The Trump administration can be expected to conjure up evidence to justify the assassination. The Pentagon has already described it as “decisive defensive action” aimed at protecting American personnel abroad. However, whether a major attack on Americans was imminent and whether assassinating the General was the best way to stop it from happening are debatable. Far from securing American personnel abroad, the US action will make them more vulnerable as Iran is unlikely to sit by quietly. It has vowed revenge, and that could take the form of retaliatory attacks on American nationals, including diplomatic and military personnel, as well as on American assets and interests abroad. Iran could target oil and commercial shipping routes and chokepoints, especially the Straits of Hormuz, which would hurt the global economy. Gen. Soleimani had played a crucial role in driving the Islamic State out of Iraq and Syria and had weakened it substantially over the past year. The IS will now find the space to return and rise again in the region. The possibility of an all-out war that draws in other regional powers cannot be ruled out, either. The reverberations of the assassination will be felt outside West Asia as well.

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