Why did Iran issue an arrest warrant for Donald Trump? Perhaps to shine a light on American hypocrisy
The US often uses international agencies like Interpol to its advantage while flouting rules when it's convenient
Iranian judiciary has issued an arrest warrant for Donald Trump over the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said today. He added that the warrants were issued on charges of murder and terrorism.
The International Criminal Police Organisation, or Interpol, later rejected the charge, saying that it does not undertake activities of ¡°political, military, religious or racial character¡±.
Iran¡¯s arrest warrant against Donald Trump is seen more as a bold political move but is unlikely to have any legal consequences for the US President. However, this does highlight and raises questions about the role of international bodies. Iran is using the international system in the same way the US does. The US clearly ignores international obligations and law when it sees fit, but uses these global systems for legitimacy when it wants to make a case against its perceived ¡°enemies¡±, Assal Rad, Senior Research Fellow at the National Iranian American Council, told me.
In that sense Iran¡¯s move seems more intent on provoking reactions and forcing reflections on US hypocrisy, even if it puts its own hypocrisy in question, Rad added.
President Trump ordered the killing of General Soleimani and others near Baghdad International Airport in January. It was seen as a major escalation which brought Iran and the US to the brink of war.
The Trump administration later argued that the assassination was ordered to prevent imminent attacks by Soleimani but did not back up that claim, despite multiple requests by many Democratic lawmakers in Congress who criticised the killing as an unnecessary step towards military conflict.
¡°From a legal standpoint, countries can in fact engage in targeted killings if the threat is imminent and there is no other choice but to act,¡± Sina Azodi, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, told me.
However, the Trump administration has so far failed to provide any credible evidence that Soleimani was in fact preparing for an ¡°imminent¡± threat and that removing him was the only choice, Azodi added.
Iran vowed to take revenge after the killing of Soleimani and retaliated by firing missiles at a military base in Iraq that hosts US forces. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said in March that ¡°America assassinated our great general and we will not let go of this¡±. The arrest warrant for Trump delivered today, although political, underscores that unwillingness to forget.
In the past, Iranian officials have had to contend with extradition warrants while on foreign travel. Argentina issued warrants for former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati over his role in the AMIA bombing in 1994 while he was travelling, and former Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi had to interrupt a trip to Bolivia after another Argentine warrant. Iran is clearly now attempting to use those kinds of tactics against the United States, Jason Brodsky, Policy Director at United Against Nuclear Iran, told me.
As with most aspects of the four-decade animosity between Iran and the United States, this arrest warrant also has a domestic political dimension. Iran¡¯s judiciary, which is in control of the hardliners, has taken the lead on these arrest warrants while the Foreign Ministry, under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, has remained quiet on the issue. How it plays out between these two governmental factions has yet to be seen.