Assassinating Soleimani: The rights and wrongs!

Assassinating Soleimani: The rights and wrongs!

My friend was adamant. “Assassinating Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad was an assault on Iraqi sovereignty. If we accept the right of mighty America to decide who lives or dies without due process in a court of law, then we cannot object to any future attack against anyone we regard innocent. I believe the man was guilty of horrendous crimes.

I believe he was a worse terrorist than Bin Laden and Baghdadi combined. However, I also believe in the rule of law. He should have been apprehended, handed over to the International Court of Justice, shown evidence of his crimes and given the right to defend himself. If proven guilty, he should have been punished according to international law and norms,” he contended.

My friend is not alone in this view. In an ideal world and normal circumstances, I would agree with him. “So how would you do that? How would you take him and where? The Iraqi government was treating him as a Supreme Leader. He chose its state, army and security leaders. He made and broke governments and laws. Do you think they would have handed him over to America or an international court? The same goes for Lebanon and Syria where he was a kingmaker,” I argued.

“I don’t know how,” was his answer. “Maybe they could have hired some militias or mercenaries to kidnap or even kill him. That would be more appropriate and stately than a direct hit. Maybe there were other ways, like a CIA operation. I am not an expert, and this is not my business, anyhow. I cannot tell Super America what to do to make it right. But I can tell them what not to do, because it is wrong,” he claimed.

“You are not talking about just any criminal,” I explained. “This was a mastermind of terrorism, a head of a terrorist organization responsible for the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and the USA (in 9/11). In addition, he was an international crime lord, who, for 20 years, orchestrated drug and human trafficking, money laundering and political corruption. His operation extended across the globe from Asia to the Americas and from Europe to Africa.

“Recently, he ordered the attacks on US bases and the embassy in Iraq, with the help of the Iraqi army and security forces. America had to defend itself in the absence of Iraqi protection. If it chose not to respond, as was the case during the Obama era, the attacks would have increased, as promised by Soleimani and other Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Yemeni militia leaders.

The target list included bombing American entities and interests in the region, assassinating and kidnapping US diplomats, contractors and civilians, targeting the interests of the US and its allies, disrupting oil production, and threatening shipping lines in the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea. All the above deeds have been done before, are being done now, and will be done over and over again, if there is not an overwhelming powerful response against them.

“What goes for Soleimani, Baghdadi and Bin Laden, goes for all world terrorists and mass killers, like Hassan Nassrallah, Abdulmalek Al-Houthi and Alhashed Alshaabi who are all gang leaders. Their options are clear and fair, either they give themselves up or die fighting. Those who live by the sword die by the sword.”

My idealist friend was not convinced. He must be an avid reader of the Washington Post which reported “Qasem Soleimani, revered military leader and decorated war hero, dies at 62.” What a shame!

— Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi