With all that has happened yet so far in 2021, the storming of the Capitol, the second impeachment of current U.S. President Donald Trump, it has been hard to keep up with the rest of the world. However, the United States seems to not be the only place that Trump has landed himself in hot water, as tensions stir in Baghdad, Iraq, as a judge promises to prosecute Trump for what they considered the premeditated mruder of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
Soleimani was the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, a Shia Muslim paramilitary force that consisted of around 50 former militias. However, the group began to establish an institutional presence using the weakened Iraqi state after a three-year fight against ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The IPM gathered local fighters, uniting them against a common enemy, and worked on liberating holding areas on the front lines of the fighting. However, the IPM has rejected offers from the Iraqi government to integrate into the central state, and instead aims to become an independent body benefiting from the weakness of the Iraqi government.
Qasem Soleimani was born in 1957 in Iran, and soon rose up the ranks in the IPM to general. His presence was hotly debated, with the European Union sanctioning him while the United States declared him a terrorist. And, on January 3rd, 2020, Soleimani was killed after a U.S. drone strike hit the Baghdad International Airport. The killing was declared an assassination.
After that day, at the start of 2020, tensions immediately rose between the countries, and people joked about a “World War Three” in the Middle East after the United Nations declared the killing a violation of international human rights law. Russia, many European countries, most of the Middle East, and several Democrats opposed the killing, while the United Kingdom and ISIS, an enemy of Soleimani, praised it. On the 7th of January, two Iranian ballistic missiles were fired at a U.S. base, and a U.S. spy was assassinated for providing information to the U.S. However, after this, the tensions calmed and the world was overtaken by the Covid crisis, distracting both the United States and Iran from the killing.
Now, over a year later. Iraq reminds The United States they haven’t forgotten the killing planned since 2017. While large memorials for Soleimani ran outside, the judge decided to charge the U.S. for premediated murder, and promised to find all those who were complicit in the killing. As U.S approval of him lowers, he becomes more vulnerable to the Middle Eastern tensions he thought he had left behind. It’s not clear whether this warrant is serious or just a warning, but only those in power know whether Trump will face real punishment for Soleimani’s death.