By: Emily Mao — School News Editor
A warrant was issued on January 7th, 2021 by Baghdad’s investigative court for former President Donald Trump over the killing of an Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, and a high ranking Iraqi paramilitary leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were both killed last year, on January 3rd, by a U.S. drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport.
Iraq charged Trump with premeditated murder, a crime punishable by death if found guilty. “After the completion of the preliminary investigation procedures, the judge decided to issue an arrest warrant for the outgoing President of the United States of America, Donald Trump,” said Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council.
The warrant comes just two days after Iran requested that the international police organization arrest Trump and 47 other Americans that played a role in Soleimani’s assassination.
Soleimani was the primary target for the strike because he was second in command in Iran, behind their Supreme Leader, and a large decision-maker for foreign policy. He also led the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps–a U.S. designated terrorist group.
Also killed in the attack was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of Iraqi state-sponsored militia groups. They also include Iran-backed militias. “His network was the most professional killer of Americans in Iraq,” said Michael Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Following the attack, the Trump administration justified their decision, saying that it was in response to “imminent threats to American lives.” The Pentagon also released a statement that explained that the target was to deter “future Iranian attack plans.”
The U.S. military’s relationship with Iraq was already tense after years of violence in the Middle East and U.S intervention. Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, condemned Trump’s actions, saying that they violated their agreement for U.S troops to remain in Iraq and violated Iraqi sovereignty.
After the strike, there was debate over whether Trump had the authority to order the strike unilaterally without getting approval from Congress. As the commander in chief, some argued that Trump had the constitutional authority to order such a strike to support national interest. Democrats, however, says that Trump should have notified Congress.
“The American people deserve to know why President Trump has brought us to the brink of another war and under what authorization,” said chair of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith.
Experts in international law have also said that the drone strike violated international human rights law. The U.S. has a history of targeted killings, like the Taliban and al-Qaeda. However, the United Nations Charter states that the use of force is only permissible for self-defense or if it is authorized by the United Nations.
Agnés Callamard, a French human rights expert and appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as a Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, says that the targeted killings of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were likely unlawful.
“Future is not the same as imminent, which is the time-based test required under international law,” Callamard said. She also says that “an individual’s past involvement in ‘terrorist’ attacks is not sufficient to make his targeting for killing lawful.”
Currently, Baghdad’s investigations are ongoing and attempting to uncover any other culprits of the crime. While it is unlikely that Trump will face legal punishment for his actions, the arrest warrant is an indication of an escalation of tensions between the U.S., Iraq, and Iran.
image from aljazeera.com