London 4 Jan 2020 - It’s difficult to believe Trump’s number one concern, while he is under impeachment at home, is the take out of Soleimani as a revenge against Iran or to prevent attacks against US personnel in Iraq.
Such a planned, precise, killing of the Iranian head of secretive Quds Force with two missiles launched from a drone probably took no longer than few days to be set, and surely has been planned before hundreds of protesters (reportedly pro-Iran) put under siege US embassy in Baghdad escalating tensions over US military presence in the country. Therefore the drone attack does not look a reaction to immediate threats.
A Republican led executive at risk of survival after the vote of the Congress for the President's impeachment, through this attack in Iraq, ‘externalised’ its crisis by diverting overseas its contrasts with the Congress.
The core of the battle is within domestic borders where the Democratic and Congress speaker Nancy Pelosi, who strongly supported Trump’s impeachment, accused him of breaching trust by hiding to all congressional leaders the airstrike in Iraq and the killing on Thursday Jan 2nd 2020.
On the international stage Trump administration breached much more than trust: international law experts over the last hours are profiling which articles of the UN convention US might be in breach of.
Now the only way out for Trump and Republicans to defend the hazardous move, might be to recur to a law passed in 2001, shortly after September 11 terror attacks, allowing the States to use military force against Iran: the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) allows the use of US Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any "associated forces".
In the past Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to link al-Qaeda to Iran, which would allow the US to invoke the 2001 law, at the same way today Vice President Mike Pence is claiming Suleimani had “assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States”. A way to bring Thursday killing within the legal frames of AUMF.
The show off of strength over the ‘common external enemy’ is a successful powerful tool of electoral propaganda: Trump needs this now as he knows that American Democratic MPs cannot fully oppose and condemn hostilities in the Middle East because they themselves pursued them under Obama and Clinton.
Reasserting power in Washington is a priority over reasserting power in the Middle East region and the latter is downgraded to a mean in order to reach the first objective.
But such an aggressive ‘foreign’ policy risks to drag into an unwanted proxi-war, or full conflict, that international actors do not want as all declared their strong will to avoid escalation of tensions.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said “This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint. The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf". The UN would not stop the mission in Iraq: “UNAMI, would continue to advocate strongly for stability across the country UN spokesperson said confirming there was no change to report in deployment of UN personnel “at this time”.
Meanwhile Nato suspended training operations in Iraq "temporarily". The mission (which has not been stopped) has several hundred officers training Iraqi troops in the fight against Isis.
The European Union invoked to restrain from violence:
“The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped before it spirals out of control”, said EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell. “The EU calls on all the actors involved and on those partners who can have an influence to exercise maximum restraint and show responsibility in this crucial moment. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilise Iraq. Furthermore, the ongoing escalation threatens the whole region, which has suffered immensely and whose populations deserve life in peace. More dialogue and efforts to enhance mutual understanding are necessary to offer long term solutions to the stabilisation of the Middle East. The EU stands ready to continue its engagement with all sides in order to contribute to defusing tensions and reverse the dynamics of the conflict”.
His predecessors Federica Mogherini warned about “An extremely dangerous escalation in the Middle East. Hope that those who still believe in wisdom and rationality will prevail, that some of the diplomatic achievements of the past will be preserved, and that a major scale confrontation will be avoided”.
Charles Michel, newly elected President of the European Council said in a statement: “The cycle of violence, provocations and retaliations which we have witnessed In Iraq over the past few weeks has to stop. Further escalation must be avoided at all cost. Iraq remains a very fragile country. Too many weapons and too many militias are slowing the process towards a return to normal daily life for Iraq’s citizens. The risk is a generalised flare up of violence in the whole region and the rise of obscure forces of terrorism that thrive at times of religious and nationalist tensions”.
Meanwhile other representatives of the EU called for de-escalation. Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni said the “Elimination of Suleimani can bring very severe consequences. From Italy and Europe we need an immediate commitment to tackling the risks of escalation and destabilisation”.
Rage looks out of control in Baghdad and Teheran. Tension is escalating in Washington as well where Trump is trying to disimpeach himself and make of his executive crisis the opportunity for a survival electoral campaign.
Defusing ongoing rage and promised revenge looks very hard: thousands (looks they are millions) are crying their rage in Teheran and Baghdad. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with visiting Qatar Foreign ministers in Tehran. On Sunday thousands are going to gather in Beirut in a protest organised by Hezbollah to honor Soleimani.
While the front of alliances is taking shape, the West can only assist to its diplomatic impotence where statements and phone calls (official and unofficial) bounce here and there on the media, The international relations which are actually faltering now are the ones between US and the rest of the world.
Trump’s disimpeachment diverted to
the Middle East