In a move unprecedented in recent history, United States armed forces in Iraq assassinated
Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an official branch of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The incident is now at the centre of worldwide attention and protests. There are two reasons for this.
First, Soleimani was at the heart
of the Iran government’s efforts to help – in response to requests from some peoples and governments in the region – fight the Islamic State militant group, better known as Isis, which the United Nations Security Council designates as a terrorist group.
Second, the assassination of Soleimani by armed forces under the direction of the US president is an obvious example of state terrorism
and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including those stipulated in the UN Charter.
It is ironic that a country that flags itself as the leading power fighting terrorism has attacked a country fighting against terrorism. Interestingly, this atrocious action did not even gain universal support in domestic circles
in the US, and has attracted widespread protests and harsh criticism of the US administration from analysts and political figures, who question the legal basis, political logic and moral ground of this provocative undertaking.
In response to this criminal act, “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of UN Charter”, said Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a tweet. He added: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
For the past year, Iran has been working diplomatically to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a landmark multilateral agreement
on its peaceful nuclear programme, which was exposed to the risk of serious collapse after the unilateral and unlawful withdrawal of the US
from the deal in May 2018. Iran chose to exercise strategic patience as proof of its belief in diplomacy.
This agreement, to which China is a party, is still highly regarded as an outstanding platform for advancing multilateral cooperation and dialogue, particularly in a region complicated by long-running disputes and challenges.
After the US withdrew from the accord, Iran obtained no economic benefits in return for its strategic patience while European countries, which committed in writing to compensate Iran for the reimposition of US sanctions, did nothing
other than offer condemnation of the US attitude. This is despite the “ maximum pressure campaign
” by the US administration that, contrary to American claims, targets ordinary Iranians and deprives them even of having access to medicine.
The constructive role played by countries such as China
– a major and responsible world power with a clear and consistent stance on US bullying and hegemonic attitudes, and promoting the peaceful resolution of disputes – has been among the factors that persuaded Iran to continue to abide fully by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
After the US government’s recent adventurism, it should be clear to everyone that the international community’s efforts to ensure the viability and functionality of diplomatic solutions are being voided, while well-established international norms and practices are drastically losing credibility.
This is likely to lead to a more chaotic world where no law is respected, bad interpretation prevails and blatant force is used no matter how others regard it. This destructive attitude gravely threatens peace and international security, and should be prevented from becoming the trend.
In the face of this crucial situation, Iran will move forward along the path of development and continue to safeguard its sovereignty, independence and dignity with much greater impetus and resolve than before, without losing its strategic outlook.
While Iran reserves the right to counter any possible aggression, it will continue to communicate and coordinate with its partners, particularly China, with which Iran has a strategic partnership
and much in common in dealing with destructive activities stemming from a power-politics mindset, to restore peace and regional stability.
It is hoped that Iran, China and all other countries that pursue a policy of independence will come together to respond to the expansionism, interference and meddling in internal affairs of others, such as that which we have witnessed in recent months with regard to the unrest in Hong Kong
and in the US propaganda campaign
to smear China’s policies.
Recent developments show that if such approaches and behaviour are not effectively pushed back, no region or country will be safe from this dangerous attitude.
Mohammad Keshavarz-Zadeh is Iran’s ambassador to China