Less than a week into the New Year and #WorldWarThree is trending on Twitter. Thank you very much Donald Trump.
Trump having lost an impeachment vote in the US Congress, has resorted to the Bill Clinton playbook of 1998. Back then Clinton launched an air strike of Kosovo to distract from his own impeachment hearing.
The US has had a longstanding beef with the Iranian regime. I’m not going to try and defend what is a brutal and repressive theocratic regime in Iran. And no doubt US intelligence had evidence of Qasem Soleimani plans to undermine the US and its allies in the Middle East. But let’s be clear, Qasem was a senior official in the Iranian Government on an official state visit to Iran. The United States military chose this window of opportunity to launch an air attack and murder Soleimani.
In 2015 US President Obama negotiated the Iranian Nuclear deal. At the time this was seen as a significant turning point in the Middle East. Whilst not ending longstanding tensions between Iran and the US, it at least brought the world one step back from nuclear disaster in the region. Further it opened the door for further dialogue. Trump on coming to power in 2017 tore up this Nuclear Deal as promised during his cynical but successful election campaign of 2016 which I’ve blogged about before.
The actions of the US have of course been condemned by Iran. Chants of Death to America were made by Iranian law makers in parliament. They have compared this act to the 1953 coup. In 1953 the US and its allies overthrew a democratically elected government and installed a regime that would be sympathetic western interests. Specifically western oil company interests.
Iran has also said there will be a response to Qasem Soleimani. They have offered up a $80US bounty for the murder of President Trump and have also said they could attack the White House amongst other targets.
Few other governments have come out in support of the US attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the few world leaders to openly support the action despite Israel being a likely target of Iran.
In the UK, the Conservative Government who were supported by President Trump in the UK General Election were not given a heads up by the US prior to the attack. Dominic Raab Secretary of State for Foreign and Common Wealth Affairs has come out supporting the actions of the US Government but has also called for diplomacy going forwards. The Prime Minister has had little to say on the matter to date.
Qasem Soleimani, while no ally of the west and considered one of the hard liners in the Iranian regime, was also a key player in fighting and eventually defeating Isis in Iraq. The Iraqi government has called for all US troops to be expelled responded to the assassination of Qasem on their soil. Across the Middle East there has been similar condemnation of the US assassination.
So one week into 2020, a Hawkish US President focussed primarily on re-election and playing to his conservative base has authorised the Murder of a senior Iranian Government figure. The world now stands on the brink of another bloody conflict and heightened security threats everywhere.
But the world doesn’t need to be like this. The Iranian regime is brutal and repressive, and the recent protests within Iran demanding change are to be commended. So too are those protesters in 70 cities throughout the USA have come out in opposition to their governments assassination of Qasem. It is time for regime change in North America and the Middle East, and to build where diplomacy, peace and prosperity can replace war, violence and injustice.