Your report on the assassination of Qassem Suleimani (Iran vows ‘severe revenge’ on the US, 3 January) features some welcome scepticism about its stated motives. The Pentagon is quoted as saying that it was about “deterring future Iranian attack plans”, while “a senior US official” refers to “the imminent attacks that Suleimani is alleged to have been preparing”. As Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, tweeted: “Future is not the same as imminent, which is the time based test required under international law.”
May I be permitted a dissenting theory – that the attacks that motivated Suleimani’s assassination were neither future nor imminent, but had already taken place? On 31 December, Donald Trump took to Twitter to vow revenge for an attack on the US embassy in Baghdad: “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”
Roodepoort, South Africa
• The US attack that killed Qassem Suleimani was yet another ploy to divert attention from President Trump’s many problems. As the impeachment hearings drag on and the Ukraine debacle is yet to be resolved, what better way is there than orchestrating a “war scenario” directed by our president, who hopes he comes out looking like a patriotic hero, since his tenure in office has been (and will always be) all about him. He is playing a dangerous game and I must ask: at what cost?
Mooresville, North Carolina
• The slaughter of Qassem Suleimani was an inept attempt by President Trump to grab attention. Trump’s foreign policy has been marred by an utter failure.
Iran resumed its nuclear programme; North Korea brushed aside Trump’s threats and entered a new era of deterrence. In Syria and Iraq, Iran and its allies emerged victorious and Trump has trampled on human rights and brazenly attributed the presence of American troops there to solely protect oil reservoirs. In Afghanistan, Trump reopened talks with the Taliban, which was labelled not long ago as a terrorist organisation. In Palestine, he drew derision by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In a nutshell, Trump is a destabiliser of global peace and security.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
• While Trump’s assassination of Suleimani may appear to be a random reflex of a disordered narcissist, research would clearly indicate that it may be a highly cynical manoeuvre. Studies have shown that increasing a perception of threat always pushes voters towards rightwing politics. We do not know what was behind Trump’s incendiary actions but they may play out to his benefit in 2020.
• Boris Johnson and any other western leader who supports the assassination of Qassem Suleimani misses a critical point (General was ‘a threat to all our interests’, 5 January). Though few in the west will lament the death of the Iranian general, we have ushered in a new law of the jungle: that it’s acceptable to assassinate a high official of a foreign state (even a nation that we are not formally at war with) without a formal trial and that it is OK to kill others who happened to be with the target as collateral damage. This precedent is dangerous.
Dr Michael Pravica
• It is disturbing that assassination is no longer universally condemned, as it was until the last decade or two. While capital punishment has become rather less common, extrajudicial killings seem to have been normalised, and, when carried out by UK allies, possible illegality is widely ignored. It seems that murder by drone is regarded as somehow less offensive than, say, killing with poison, but as there is almost always “collateral damage” it is just as iniquitous and should never become acceptable.
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