Condolences & Solidarity with Iran over America’s assassination of Major General Soleimani, & the tragic shooting down of the Ukrainian plane
13 January 2020
Excellency, Ambassador Mr Mohammad Reza Mofatteh
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
PO Box 14733, Kilbirnie, WELLINGTON
Letter by Kay Weir
Your Excellency Ambassador Mr Mohammad Reza Mofatteh
I am writing to express my deepest condolences over the accidental downing of the Ukrainian passenger jet in Tehran on January 8, and also America’s shocking drone assassinations of revered, charismatic leader, Major General Qassem Soleimani, and the Commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Front as they left Baghdad airport on January 3. I was deeply moved by General Soleimani’s funerals in both Iraq and Iran, and mourn his death as the loss of a great leader.
Iran has commendably swiftly apologised for the tragic mistake in shooting down the Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people on board. The admission came just 3 days after Iran initially denied responsibility, before it had had time to assess the catastrophe. And Iran had already invited international experts to help with the investigation. Iran has shown integrity in quickly taking responsibility for the loss of life at a time of great adversity in Iran. With unprecedented tensions due to American aggression and threats, Iran’s aerial defence forces were on high alert, with a boosted defence ring around Tehran. The civilian plane was tragically identified as a cruise missile.
Iran’s mature handling of the disaster stands in stark contrast with the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 by a US warship in the Persian Gulf. All 290 people on board were killed when USS Vincennes, fired a surface-to-air warhead at the aircraft, claiming it was mistaken for an enemy warplane. America never formally apologized for the deaths. After years of wrangling, the US paid out over $60 million in compensation to Iran under a 1996 ruling by the International Court of Justice. Yet Washington still did not accept liability. Former President HW Bush said he would never apologise. Bizarrely, Captain William C Rogers and his crew were later awarded military medals of honour.
We also never hear any apology from America for the nearly 20 years of death and devastation it has brought to the Middle East in the first 19 years of this century in illegal wars of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.
However, in my view, and I am sure that of many others, the primary cause of the tragic shooting down of the plane, lies with the US in its pursuit of power through endless violence and its continuing aggression towards Iran, including: genocidal sanctions over decades, its unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA Treaty, its military aggression with the illegal armada of ships and planes in the Persian Gulf in 2019, and recently, the illegal, assassination of national and regional hero, Major General Soleimani. Although America claims it assassinated General Soleimani because he was planning an imminent attack on American diplomats and military staff, no evidence has been produced. The reality, from statements in Parliament by Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, is that General Soleimani was travelling to Iraq on the invitation of Iraq’s government in a diplomatic capacity to help mediate a solution to the regional crisis with Saudi Arabia. He was in Iraq on a peace mission when murdered. Perhaps this was the real reason the US murdered General Soleimani. The US is not interested in peace between Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, which would disrupt its divide and rule wars of domination in the Middle East.
General Soleimani was not only loved in Iran, but respected and influential throughout the Middle East. He was a symbol of strength and resistance against Western aggression, training and assisting countries at their request in their efforts to defeat IS and ISIL jihadi terrorists, created in US wars of aggression which are the supreme international crime according to international law.
Iran’s attacks on US bases in Iraq show great restraint
Iran’s defensive response to the treacherous US assassination of General Soleimani, by bombing two US military facilities in Iraq, al-Asad base in western Anbar province and Erbil in the north was very measured. Though Iran’s missiles largely destroyed US military facilities, they apparently led to no deaths of US military forces. Thus the attack on US bases in Iraq showed enormous restraint and wisdom on Iran’s part, as Iran could undoubtedly have killed many US soldiers if it had decided to do so. Iran has shown the restraint that is very much lacking In America’s aggressive, illegal wars that have killed millions and destroyed countries in the Middle East and North Africa this century.
Iran’s amazing restraint has undoubtedly led Richard N. Haass, President of the US Council of Foreign Relations, to call on Trump to lift its sanctions on Iran. He wrote in twitter: “Iran ‘s FM @JZarif says his country seeks neither escalation nor war.” Haass recommends Trump equal that saying” “US prepared to ease sanctions as there is real restraint in Iran ‘s nuclear, missile and regional activities.”
But besides murdering General Soleimani, the US also murdered the acting Commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, and other men accompanying their leaders, 10 people in all. I understand that the PMU was founded and trained by Iran to defeat IS when it occupied nearly a third of Iraq and Syria. The PMU are under direct command of Iraq’s Prime Minister and linked with other Iraq forces aiming to defeat IS in it last hideouts. Naturally, Iraq’s government is outraged by the US attack which killed General Soleimani who was invited to Iraq, as well as killing one of Iraq’s military leaders and its soldiers.
US violated Iraq’s sovereignty: now illegally in Iraq
The US was legally in Iraq under a 2011 agreement to work in consultation with Iraq to stop terrorists. It has violated the agreement, by killing General Soleimani and Iraq’s military leaders, plus soldiers involved in defeating terrorist groups. As the US has utterly violated Iraq’s sovereignty and the agreement allowing the US to be in Iraq, Iraq’s government naturally wants the US military and its allies to leave the country. The US is afterall the country that started the illegal war on Iraq in 2003, based on false information about weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. The infamous Shock & Awe attack on Baghdad slaughtered civilians in apartment buildings and led to humanitarian catastrophes throughout Iraq in 17 years of occupation.
The murder of Iran’s General Soleimani on January 3 was preceded by outraged, unarmed Iraqi protests in Baghdad on 31 December on the US Embassy in Baghdad. This public outrage in Iraq against America, was in response to an earlier US attack on Iraq’s military on 29 December, which left 32 dead and more than 50 wounded. The dead included Abu Ali Madiniyah, commander of the 1st battalion of the 45th Brigade. These strikes were also in total disregard of Iraq’s sovereignty being against forces under direct command of the Iraqi state. So it is quite absurd for the US government and media to say Iran is behind protests against America in Iraq, and that Iran is causing problems in Iraq, when the US is running amok, killing Iraq’s soldiers involved in fighting IS/ISIL terrorists, and assassinating an important invited guest, General Soleimani who was in Iraq on a peace mission. It is not only Iraq’s government, the people of Iraq are outraged by America killing its leaders and soldiers, and murdering General Soleimani.
I understand that the day after General Soleimani assassination, despite a $1 trillion fine set by the US government, Iraq’s Parliament passed legislation demanding the expulsion of American forces. I understand also that Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi participated in the funeral procession of General Soleimani in Iraq with tears in his eyes, and that he announced three days of public mourning for him and that legislators and deputies in Iraq’s Parliament, from all parties, race and ethnicity postponed their official meeting in Parliament to participate in the funeral procession. Clearly General Soleimani was revered in Iraq because he really helped the country, unlike America’s reign of terror that has devastated and impoverished Iraq.
Although America says it will remain in Iraq to “fight terrorists,” despite Iraq urging it to leave, it will be there illegally as an occupation force repellent to Iraq’s people. However, the German government has recently said its military in Iraq would “only remain if Iraq’s government wanted that.” I certainly hope the New Zealand government will see that America has no credibility and that it is the cause not solution to conflict in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.
In solidarity with Iran’s sorrow for the death of the great General Soleimani and the accidental deaths of people on the Ukrainian plane, and for Iran’s sterling efforts to oppose America’s belligerent wars and its destabilising illegal sanctions on Iran and other countries.
The Pacific Institute of Resource Management (PIRM) is a voluntary organisation founded in Wellington in 1984, dedicated to principles of peace, ecology, justice and sustainability. We have published a journal, Pacific Ecologist and make submissions to government on a variety of issues.
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