Crime & Justice

Iran's call to pursue Trump for Soleimani killing 'foolish': US

By Ardeshir Kordestani

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Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasi-Mehr in October. [Photo via Mehr News]

The Iranian regime's issuance of an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump in June over the death of Qassem Soleimani puts focus on Iran's own history of direct and indirect involvement in attacks on foreign soil.

Iran subsequently asked Interpol for help in enforcing the warrant.

These actions show in stark contrast how the government in Tehran has long used terrorism in the Middle East and beyond in the pursuit of its objectives.

Before Iran accuses the US of terrorism for having killed Soleimani -- a man known to have organised and equipped Shia terror groups across the Middle East -- it should atone for its own history of violence to achieve political aims at the expense of the region's peace and security, one observer told Al-Mashareq.

On June 29th, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasi-Mehr announced that Iran issued an arrest warrant for "36 individuals who had a hand in, were consulted on, or ordered" the killing of Soleimani.

Soleimani, the most prominent figure of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was in charge of the overseas arm of the IRGC. He was killed in Iraq on January 3rd.

The US President "is at the top of the list" and efforts to bring about his arrest will "continue even after he leaves office", Alqasi-Mehr said.

The US dismissed the move, with Brian Hook, then-US Special Representative on Iran, saying: "This is another political stunt by the Iranian regime. It doesn't surprise us and it's the kind of propaganda that I think we are certainly used to."

Hook stated that the arrest warrant "has nothing to do with national security, international peace or promoting stability... It is a propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish".

In a statement, Interpol said its constitution does not allow "any intervention or activities of a political" nature, adding that it would not take requests of this nature into consideration.

Iran's own violent history overseas

US-based Iran researcher Amir Toumaj told Al-Mashareq the warrant and the request for assistance from Interpol are both meant to show that the Iranian regime is pursuing international action in response to Soleimani's death. But, he added, "they knew nothing serious would ensue".

The Iranian regime points to the "unjust killing" of Soleimani. Meanwhile, it is accused of being involved in bombing the US barracks in Lebanon in 1983 and facilitating the bombing of the Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996.

Ahmad Vahidi, a former Iranian defence minister and IRGC Quds Force commander, was wanted by Interpol for his involvement in the bombing of a community centre in Argentina in 1994.

And more recently in Iraq, Iran-affiliated militias have been blamed for dozens of attacks that have targeted the US and other international missions since January.

The attacks have targeted US forces housed in Iraqi bases and its embassy in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone.

'Isolating tactic'

"The Iranian regime pulls these stunts to tell its own people, 'look at what we are doing on the international stage, look at how capable we are'," a US-based retired Iranian navy analyst told Al-Mashareq.

This publicity effort is likely wasted, he said.

There are two classes of people in Iran: the haves and the have-nots, he explained. The former group is well-connected within the regime and is busy making money hand over fist. This group does not care what Iran does or does not do on the world stage.

The second group, the have-nots, is in such dire circumstances that it, too, does not care about the Islamic Republic's international grandstanding, he said.

"Iran's leadership does not want to negotiate with the US, and this action [the warrant] is representative of that," he told Al-Mashareq.

Such tactics by Tehran serve to further isolate the already beleaguered Islamic Republic, he added.

EU powers already waver on taking sides against Washington in any political squabble with Tehran and they would have even less reason to do so now, he said, calling the arrest warrant "laughable".

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