Iran issued an arrest warrant against the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and dozens of his aides, months after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Iraq.
The United States’ assassination of the top Iranian general on January 3 increased tensions between the two archrivals, who have been at odds since Trump pulled his country out of a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on Monday that Trump, along with more than 30 accused by Iran of being involved in the attack, face “murder and terrorism charges,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, without mentioning the names of any of his assistants.
What happened after the murder?
The United States killed General Soleimani, who oversaw the Quds expeditionary force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and others in the January attack near Baghdad International Airport.
The attack angered Iraqi Shiite lawmakers who voted to eliminate more than 5,000 US troops deployed to the country.
After three national days of mourning, Iran retaliated for Soleimani’s murder with a barrage of missiles that attacked two air bases that host US troops in Iraq in Erbil and Ain al-Assad. The troops had prior warning and none were killed, but more than 100 have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
Since then, Iran and the United States have refrained from further escalation, but the issue of American troops has been at the forefront of Iraqi politics..
Soleimani’s murder | Start here
What does Iran say?
While Iran argues that the Soleimani assassination constitutes extrajudicial assassination, Washington initially justified the assassination by saying it anticipated an “imminent attack” on United States personnel and embassies, but no evidence was provided to Congress.
He later said the assassination was intended to deter Iran and its representatives from launching attacks against US bases in the region.
In its announcement on Monday, Iran sought Interpol’s help to carry out the arrests.
Brian Hook, the United States Special Representative for Iran, rejected the announcement during a press conference in Saudi Arabia.
“It is a propaganda trick that nobody takes seriously and makes Iranians look silly,” Hook said.
What could happen next?
Interpol said in a statement that its constitution prohibited it from undertaking “any intervention or activity of a political, military, religious or racial nature.”
“Therefore, if or when any of those requests were sent to the General Secretariat,” he added, “… Interpol would not consider requests of this nature.”
Hook referred to Interpol’s guidelines during his press conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
“Our assessment is that Interpol does not step in and issue red notices … (of) a political nature,” he said.
“This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace or the promotion of stability.”
AlqasimehrHe said Iran will continue the matter after Trump leaves office.
President Trump has embarked in recent years on a campaign to economically squeeze Tehran through successive rounds of sanctions targeting individuals and entities.
Dubbed the “maximum pressure” campaign, the strategy consists of complementary methods of diplomatic, economic and military pressure to curb Iran’s influence in the region and end the country’s nuclear ambitions and missile program.
The tensions could lead to another round of sanctions that would further weaken Iran’s terrible economy, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Saudi and US officials urged the international community on Monday to extend a United Nations arms embargo against Iran, warning that allowing the ban to expire would allow Tehran to arm its powers and destabilize the region.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, and the US envoy for Iran, Hook, spoke at a joint press conference in Riyadh, where the venue displayed weapons, including drones and missiles, that Saudi authorities accuse Tehran to send Iran from Yemen. Houthi rebels lined up.