Killing Qassem Soleimani: Rule of Law or Rule of the Jungle?

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US President Donald Trump. — File photo

James M Dorsey | Caravan Daily

INTERNATIONAL law may not be a major consideration in debates about the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, yet the legality of the assassination could prove to have long-term consequences for whether the rule of law or the law of the jungle dominates a new world order.

The Trump administration has asserted that killing Mr. Soleimani was necessary to avert an imminent attack on US targets that allegedly was being planned by Mr. Soleimani and Abdul Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, who also died in the attack.

The assertion, yet to be backed up by evidence, served to justify the attack and fend off allegations that the targeted killing violated both US and international law.

The implication was that Mr. Soleimani’s death would thwart an unspecified imminent attack and stop the Iranians in their tracks, an assumption that has little foundation in reality given Iran’s track record, most recently its refusal to buckle under following the imposition in 2018 of harsh US economic sanctions, some of the harshest ever imposed.

The notion that the killing of Mr. Soleimani amounted to rule of the jungle rather than rule of law was reinforced by assertions by Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that he had been asked by Mr. Trump to mediate with Iran and that the Iranian military leader had been carrying Iran’s response to a Saudi initiative to defuse tension when he was assassinated.

Mr Abdul Mahdi’s allegation that Mr. Soleimani was involved in efforts to dial down tensions came in a debate in parliament in which lawmakers called in a resolution for the removal from Iraq of foreign forces, the bulk of which are American.

Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s assertion that Iran was responding to a Saudi initiative was all the more noteworthy given that the kingdom had reportedly recently put its indirect outreach to Iran on hold as anti-government protesters in Iraq and Lebanon targeted Iranian influence in their countries.

“Americans, once the most prominent proponents of international law as the regulator of relations between nations, have now fully validated the law of the jungle.  We are now likely to experience it,” said Chas W. Freeman Jr, a former career US State Department official in an email to a private mailing list.

Conservative commentator Robert Kagan warned in a book published last year, bemoaning America’s withdrawal as an enforcer of international law, a notion challenged by an array of critics, that chaos was the world’s historical norm. “The jungle will grow back, if we let it,” Mr. Kagan argued.

The sense that Mr. Trump, like many of the world’s civilizational leaders, has no regard for international law was evident, particularly to Iranians, in his threat to attack Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliates for the killing of Mr. Soleimani.

Mr. Trump did not specify what he meant by cultural. Some analysts suggested the president may have been referring to symbols like the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s Islamic republic.

Legal experts nonetheless warned that attacks on cultural sites amount to a war crime.

With millions in the streets to welcome the return of Mr. Soleimani’s body, Iranians used the hashtag #IranianCulturalSites to respond to the threat by posting online pictures of mosques, museums, monuments, archaeological sites, and other Iranian architectural marvels.

Similarly, with Iraq perceiving the US strikes as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, Iraqis may, alongside Iranians, be one of the few who, perhaps self-servingly, factor adherence to international law in their debates.

In line with the comments of Messrs. Freeman and Kagan, the legal aspects of Mr. Soleimani’s killing take on a significance that goes far beyond the Middle East in an environment in which civilizational leaders like India’s Narendra Modi, China’s Xi Jingping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Myanmar’s Win Myint flout international law with impunity.

Violations of international law grounded in propagation of concepts of a civilizational rather than a nation state that defines its borders not in terms of internationally recognized frontiers, but blurry lines of civilizational reach, have occurred in recent years fast and furious.

Iraqi assertions of a US violation of sovereignty echo Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Trump has ignored United Nations Security Council resolutions by unilaterally recognizing Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Mr. Mynt stands accused of ethnic cleansing by the United Nations that has prompted hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Massive evidence documents Mr. Jinping’s authorization of the brutal repression of Turkic Muslims in the troubled north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang while Mr. Modi appears to be progressively disenfranchising his country’s Muslim minority.

For his part, Mr. Soleimani is believed to have been responsible for numerous incidents of political violence, including a 2012 attack on tourists in Bulgaria executed by a Lebanese suicide bomber. Five of the six casualties were Israelis.

Adopting the principle of might is right, civilizational leaders’ abandonment of international law, including guarantees of basic and minority rights, risks creating a global jungle in which wars, political violence, marginalization of ethnic and religious groups, and destabilizing mass migration contribute to rule of the jungle rather than rule of law.

So do Western approaches adopted almost two decades ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Said at the time Robert Cooper, a British diplomat, former advisor to prime minister Tony Blair, current advisor to the European Commission on Myanmar, and a proponent of the doctrine of a new liberal imperialism who in 2011 defended Bahrain’s brutal repression of a popular uprising:

If the world has a civilized core that deserves lawful conduct, there also is a barbarous periphery that warrants “rougher methods of an earlier era… Postmodern states operate on the basis of laws and open co-operative security” but “in the jungle, one must use the laws of the jungle.”

Some two decades after Mr. Cooper wrote those words, the jungle rather than the rule of law threatens to become the norm, putting the global community on a dangerous and slippery slope.

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James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. The views expressed here are author’s personal.

1 COMMENT

  1. US assassinates Solomon-I, in Iraq, in a Quasi-Shia State, in the wee hours of the morning.

    Y would a Iranian Gen – who is anti-Israel and America, fly from a Commercial/Military Airport in Iraq – when the US embassy was firebombed just a few days ago ? He would have known that all his e-signatures would be tracked by the Americans,second by second,and there would be no dearth of spies at the hangar,ATC,Airport who would ply the Americans with precise coordinates of the General’s flight patterns ?

    Surely after the US embassy bombing the Good General would have been told by his team to exit Iraq ? Could a general be so careless or foolish – that he would think that he could exit from a designated airport,after the US embassy escapade – and with another designated terrorist (designed by USA) – with makes it a double prime target – and with no collateral baggage ? In ISIS days – he was fighting with the Americans – and those days are over.

    Persian Shia’ism is not a suicide cult – it appears to be one – but it is not.So the general was misled into complacency and entrapped by some , in the Iraqi state, to take that flight – and the US embassy firebombing might also have been a false flag operation as the US troops shot no one – id.est., no firebomber was killed.But the sons of Xerxes and Cyrus cannot be so naive and foolish.The General would not have boarded that plane unless he was secured by the Russians and Tehran.2000 years ago, the Jews inserted a fake verse into the Old Testament and Talmud – to state that Cyrus was the messiah- and showed it to Cyrus – who like a fool, believed it, and rebuilt the Temple !The General had read the Torah,Talmud,Hebrew Bible and the History of the Jews and the Nassara

    CNN portrays the killing as a “Trump rash reaction” – but it is not.Ultimately,the USA will go to war with Iran – as the Americans do not trust the Persian Shias – on the N-Bomb,and the Persians do not trust the Jews or the Nassara. Soleimani was just the catalyst to push the Persians into the N- Suspension, and go full N-throttle – which is what the Persians have done – and which is what the Americans wanted.

    Iraqi govtt will kick out the US troops and the US troops will not leave – as that is what the Americans (and Kurds,Nassara,Sunnis) really want.To be precise, the Kurds,Suniis do not want the Yankii to leave – but that they be asked to leave – so that their mortal fears of living under Persian Shias is brought to the fore – for a partition of the Iraqi state

    What the Americans want is to trifurcate Iraq – which will happen inevitably post Soleimani – and which is what the Persians also seek,although the Persians would like to Shia-ise the whole of Iraq.Persian security interests are preserved by destabilising and burning Iraq to create a “sea of fire” between them and the US/Israel and satellite Hezbollahs all over the Gulf,especially encircling the Saudis (The Soleimani Doctrine).But now,they will be happy with a trifurcation

    After trifurcating Itaq the Persians will export their franchise and the brand to all Shia regions in GCC and Africa (where the USA has lesser troops and even lesser interest).Even the EU/PRC will be pleased – and this will look like an amicable solution (already crafted) – after creating a well planned disaster (assassinating Soleimani)

    There was no inpending attack by Soleimani – just lies and deception of the American state.There are many heads of Terror Groups in the Gulf who can be killed, with or w/o collateral impact – but they are never taken out – not even by Israel or ISIS (Israel Secret Intel Service).The Americans chose a Persian Shia,when the whole Sunni world hates Persia and the Persia Shian, and killed him in a Quasi Shia State – and so there is no empathy or support for the Persians – even after the assassination – not even from Russia and PRC.

    Obviously,the Russians,PRC,EU would have known – and they did not tip off the Persians and the Americans shot off 4 Hell Fire’s – and THERE WAS NO COLLATERAL PRESENCE AT THE AIRPORT AT THAT TIME. A marked man would travel in the presence of ample collateral baggage – like the Hamas and Hezb, do in Gaza – to provoke Collateral damage,and then the Christian empathy,by Amanpour on CNN

    The Persians have launched a muffled attack at a site which it knows, hosts no Americans, using missiles which have the capacity to hit US barracks,and knowing that the site hosts Iraqis – where the Iranians had ample intel and time to affix missile coordinates for the terminal descent – and they did not.The Persians used BM with intent,SO THAT THE AMERICANS could track their launch and loading and set up – AND THE AMERICANS did NOT TAKE OUT THE LAUNCHERS AND SILOS – before take off.

    The whole story stinks and if it ends with the Persian missile strike – it will stink even more.Odds are there will be more strikes by the Persians and US will make 1 strike (at least) on Persian soil – to further aggravate the Persians into the N-Bomb – and then disaster will come when either side hits civilians by plan or strategy

    A few days ago,the Iranian media mentioned the US blowing up of a Iranian Airliner long ago.Coincidentally,a NATO nation – Article 5 nation – had its commercial aircraft blown up in Tehran- with no survivors – at take off time – with all tanks full,Ukraine is a nation that Trump and the USA have sworn to protect.

    Just providence of coincidence and incidence.No one is reporting on the passenger list – surely there would no Shias on the plane.

    The Nassara do not understand 1 simple thing.For the Persians and also the Sunnis,the path to salvation and evolution, as per Shia Theology and Philosophy – goes via the Bed of Armageddon – as that is when the Mehdi will return

    As an aside, the Hindoos sent a terror-spy to Pakistan, via Iran, on the cover of a port project.The spy was busted in Pakistan.Hindoo History and Persian History shows that whenever, the Persians support the Hindoos or Indians – some disaster occurs.Soleimani supported the Indian Terror-Spy.

    The wisdom of the “children of Cyrus,Darius and Xerxes”,encapsulates the “transcendence of Human thought”, the “Deuterosis of the Dindoo”, as under:

    A “Persian dictionary”,titled “Lughet-e-Kishwari”,published in Lucknow in 1964,gives the meaning of the word Hindu as “chore [thief], dakoo [dacoit], raahzan [waylayer], and ghulam [slave].

    Evidently the Gates of Hell are ajar.In essence,the world is overpopulated.If The Indians and South East Asians (besides Thai women) were to disappear,the Garden of Eden would return.Then there are Arabs,who allow Hindoos in their nation and let them build temples in Arab nations and extol Hindoo Gods – such vermin should also die.dindooohindoo

    And then there are Muslims – who will not answer 1 simple question – Was Soleimani a Mujahid and now a Shaheed.Soleimani- the Persian,named after Solomon-the son of David-David the messiah of Israel.

    Solomon bore the Curse of Allah on the Jews – as per the Hebrew Bible – id.est the Jews are cursed by Allah,due to the sins of Solomon.

    Y did the Russians and Tehran not protect Soleimani ? They allowed him to be killed .

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