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article imageOp-Ed: Was Soleimani killed for saying 'bad things' about the US?

By Ken Hanly     Jan 20, 2020 in Politics
President Trump has changed his narrative as to what justified the US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. He first stressed that Soleimani was assassinated because of an imminent threat of his attacking US interests.
Later after there was little concrete evidence provided of any imminent threat Trump added that it did not really matter because Soleimani had done so many bad things in the past. Finally this Friday Trump suggested to donors the Soleimani was killed not because of what he did but because of all the bad things he said about the US.
Trump's new justification for the Soleimani assassination
Trump's remarks are reported in the Hill: "President Trump told Republican donors Friday evening that Qassem Soleimani, the top Iranian general who was killed in a drone strike this month, was “saying bad things” about the U.S. before his death. Trump offered a minute-by-minute recounting of the strike in Baghdad at a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago estate, CNN reported Saturday, citing audio it obtained of his remarks. He told the high-dollar donors that Soleimani’s invectives against America helped lead to his decision to authorize his killing. "How much of this shit do we have to listen to?" Trump was quoted as saying. "How much are we going to listen to?" " In his remarks Trump made no mention of any imminent threat from Soleimani. He had said earlier that the threats were probably against four US embassies
The US typically uses the imminent threat rationale when it carries out a targeted killing since it is a recognized defense for such an action. Absent any imminent threat the US action is surely illegal under international law. Being insulted by what Soleimani says is by no stretch of the imagination a legal justification for assassinating a person. If the US decides that a person is a legitimate target to be killed that is the end of the story. Legal justification is not an issue as US authorities become the judge, jury, and executioner simply because of the power of the US. One might think that the US can lose its case before the ICC. However the US does not recognize the ICC.
Iran is said to be planning to sue the US and also bring a case before the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Gholam Hossein Esmaeili, the spokesman for Iran's top judicial authorities said at a press conference: "We intend to file lawsuits in the Islamic Republic, Iraq and The Hague Court [International Court of Justice] against the military and government of America and against Trump. There is no doubt that the US military has done a terrorist act assassinating Guards Commander Lt. Gen. Soleimani and Second-in-Command of Iraq Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis ... and Trump has confessed doing the crime."
Why the Soleimani issue is unlikely to end up in the ICC
A recent article
describes the ICC: "The Hague-based ICC is an international legal body that prosecutes war crimes and crimes against humanity. Established by the 2002 Rome Statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute crimes that take place in a member state or are committed by a member state. It can also take up a case that is referred to it by the United Nations Security Council."
Neither the US, Iran, nor Iraq are signatories to the Rome Statute and thus not member states. While the case could be referred to the ICC by the UN any permanent member of the UN Security Council can veto such a referral. The five permanent members of the Council are: the US, China, Russia, the UK and France. The US would not doubt veto any attempt at a referral. The US argues that the ICC is a threat to US sovereignty and even revoked a US vise for the court's top prosecutor ahead of a possible investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan. The US is to remain sovereign in its ability to commit war crimes without any accountability.
Trump has in less than two weeks changed his justification for assassinating Soleimani from at least a plausible recognized justification, an imminent threat, to relating "bad things" that Soleimani has allegedly done and finally to Soleimani simply saying bad things about the US. So the US feels it is justified in the targeted killing of a person on the basis of he or she having said "bad things" about the US.
Trump appeared
to warn Iran's leader Ayatollah Khamenei about his new policy: "President Trump on Friday warned Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be “very careful with his words,” after he used a rare public address to deride “American clowns” and defend Iran’s military. “The so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe,” Trump, who is in Palm Beach, Fla., for a fundraiser, tweeted Friday evening. “Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!” "
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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