U.N. Says U.S. Execution Of Iranian General Was Unlawful And So Was Iran’s Retaliatory Missile Strikes

U.N. Says U.S. Execution Of Iranian General Was Unlawful And So Was Iran’s Retaliatory Missile Strikes

The United Nations says the U.S. has no proof that the Iranian general and six others executed in a drone strike were planning an imminent attack, or that the strike was justified. Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 18, 2016. Photo: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File

The U.S. has provided no proof that the Iranian general and six others executed in January in a drone strike were planning an imminent attack, or that the executions were justified, the United Nations has reported.

Top U.N. investigator Agnes Callamard condemned the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3 as unlawful, Wall Street Journal reported.

Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes five days later on an Iraqui base housing U.S. troops was illegal too, according to Callamard, who is U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“To the extent that evidence points to the U.S. and Iranian strikes being retaliations or reprisals, each would be unlawful,” Callamard said in a report focusing on the use of armed drones and the killing of Soleimani. The Wall Street Journal saw a copy of the report.

President Donald Trump said on Jan. 3, “Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him.”

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However, the U.S. didn’t mention any imminent threat and referred only to past incidents in a letter submitted to the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 8, which formed the basis for the U.N. in determining the legality of the strike, according to Callamard’s report, WSJ reported.

“It takes a special kind of intellectual dishonesty to issue a report condemning the United States for acting in self-defence while whitewashing General Soleimani’s notorious past as one of the world’s deadliest terrorists,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Wednesday.

Apparently unable to argue against the U.N. report using logic, the spokeswoman resorted to name-calling, describing the U.N. report as “tedious” (too long/boring) and “tendentious” (biased).

“This tendentious and tedious report undermines human rights by giving a pass to terrorists and it proves once again why America was right to leave” the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2018, she added.

Callamard said the definition of self-defense used by the U.S. to justify the drone strike against Soleimani was in “complete contradiction” with international jurisprudence. “International law is international. It is not American,” Callamard said.

Iran said Soleimani’s killing in Iraq was an act of terrorism and put out a warrant for Trump’s arrest in June, along with 35 other people. It’s part of an effort to cast the U.S. as a rogue state that doesn’t respect international conventions, violates its airspace with drones and uses illegal methods to pressure Iran, WSJ reported.

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was CIA director (January 2017 until April 2018 ), he forged a friendship with Yossi Cohen, the director of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, according to a person familiar with their meetings.

They discussed the threat from Iran to both Israel and the U.S. Every option was on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons including a military strike, Cohen said during an October 2019 interview published in the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Mishpacha. A military strike would be “a last choice.”

The U.S. said that the assassination was an attempt to deter attacks against U.S. embassies, service members and diplomats.

This action was taken without the consultation of Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. The Trump administration did not inform Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) before the strike, an aide told HuffPost via email.

The assassination came hours after the Pentagon warned Iran-backed militias against further provoking the U.S. following an attempt to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

The airstrike sent shockwaves through the Middle East and beyond. It’s “the most major decapitation strike the U.S. has ever engaged in,” according to Phillip Smyth, a Shia Islamist militarism expert and senior fellow at the Washington Institute.

Soleimani was one of the most powerful men in Iran, responsible for the country’s fight against Islamic State. 

Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday that the U.S. rejects Callamard’s report and “opinions.” She “gives more cause to distrust U.N. human rights mechanisms,” he added.

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The Trump administration withdrew the U.S from the Human Rights council two years ago, accusing it of anti-Israel bias and alleging that it is too accepting of autocratic regimes that regularly abuse human rights, Haaretz reported.

Based on the evidence provided by the U.S., “the targeting of Gen. Soleimani, and the deaths of those accompanying him, constitute an arbitrary killing for which, under (international human rights law), the United States is responsible,” Callamard said.

This is the first known incident in which a U.N. member state used self-defense to justify an attack against a state actor, rather than non-state militant groups, in the territory of another state, according to the report.