Iran has issued an arrest warrant for US president Donald Trump and dozens of others velieved to have been ivolved in the drone strikethat killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad.
While Donald Trump faces no danger of arrest, the charges underscore the heightened tensions between Iran and the United States since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said Donald Trump and more than 30 others whom Iran accuses of involvement in the Jan. 3 strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad face “murder and terrorism charges,” the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
Alqasimehr also was quoted as saying that Iran requested a “red notice” be put out for Trump and the others, which represents the highest level arrest request issued by Interpol. Local authorities end up making the arrests on behalf of the country that request it. The notices cannot force countries to arrest or extradite suspects, but can put government leaders on the spot and limit suspects’ travel.
After receiving a request, Interpol meets by committee and discusses whether or not to share the information with its member states. Interpol has no requirement for making any of the notices public, though some do get published on its website.
It is unlikely Interpol would grant Iran’s request as its guideline for notices forbids it from “undertaking any intervention or activities of a political” nature.
The U.S. killed Soleimani, who oversaw the Revolutionary Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force, and others in the January strike near Baghdad International Airport. It came after months of incidents raising tensions between the two countries and ultimately saw Iran retaliate with a ballistic missile strike targeting American troops in Iraq.
A symbolic yet practical move to arrest Donald Trump
Although it is doubtful Iran expected the warrant to lead to President Trump’s arrest, or even to constrain his movements, it was clearly designed to exceed the simple symbolism of its timing.
A move hatched by the hardline conservatives in Iran’s government, and about which President Hassan Rouhani’s moderates have said little, the issuing of the arrest warrant is expected to shine a spotlight on the arbitrary way the US uses – and some would say abuses – international law for its own benefit.
Iran warned the US after Soleimani’s death that it would not forget, and has, with this move, indicated not only to its own people, but also to the international community, that it is playing the long game, and that Soleimani’s extrajudicial killing remains a driver of policy.
The warrant, though a political rather than military manoeuvre, is part of a larger Iranian strategy to expose Washington’s injustice and dishonesty to the international community. In the case of Soleimani’s killing, the US not only changed its justification for the assassination after the fact, but it also offered no corroborating documentation to the international community.
What is more, though it lacks Interpol’s support, the warrant gives Iran the legal right to demand that countries in which Trump and the others named in it are travelling, issue extradition measures. It is highly unlikely that any country would attempt to extradite the US president to Iran, but the legal obligations brought by the warrant could prove an irritating distraction should it be used to interrupt the travels of targeted US officials in the future.
The warrant also draws attention to the arbitrary, and at times illegal, travel restrictions the US has imposed on countless Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.