Are Iran and the USA truly trying to avoid an outbreak of an open conflict?

US administration led by US President Donald Trump has breached international law several times during the last days.

First of all, the aerial attack itself should be seen from an objective and a critical view. Even though Qasim Solejmani has been perceived as a terrorist person and a potential threat for the USA, no international right enables a state to attack another state or state’s representative without further permission of the UN Security Council. The aerial attack that happened on the 3rd of January was not the only assassination of the Iranian official defense representative and assassination of the Iraqi military general, but it was also an attack against the sovereignty of Iraq as a state. Albeit Iraq has been in turmoil caused by ISIS and other terrorist militias, it is still a sovereign and autonomic state with a government, parliament and no state has claimed Iraq as a failed state.

US minister of defense, US president, as well as US ministry of foreign affairs, claimed that the United States is not willing to start an open conflict. However, their behaviour and the latest actions and steps are a complete contradiction to what has been said. Minister of foreign affairs Mike Pompeo said that Qasim Soleimani was not on a diplomatic mission in Iraq and that he might be continuing preparing and attack against US military units based in Iraq. It can be perceived as justifying the attack by their feeling that it might be a threat to the US without any further confirmation.

Iran, as well as Iraq, responded very quickly. Iran clearly expressed its anger and voted for perceiving all US military units as a terrorist group and warned the US administration to withdraw from the region with the emphasis on Iraq. Iraq voted during a parliament session to ordered withdraw US military group from Iraqi territory. It is up to the Iraqi government now to approve it. However, the USA clearly reacted that they are not planning to leave any soon. Moreover, President Donald Trump expressed his thoughts in the way that he is prepared to impose sanctions bigger than it has been in the case of Iran. Iraq has been calling for justice in case of breaching its sovereignty in an open letter to the Security Council of the UN. Unfortunately, the US as one of the “veto” states will probably use the right to take it off the table.

As the USA has been organizing the UN Security Council meeting in New York, the Iranian minister of foreign affairs Zarif wanted to attend it in order to meet all representatives and openly discuss the current situation in the region. However, the US administration denied releasing a visa for him without any further explanation. However, the UN must enable all relevant representatives of member states to attend such a meeting and it can be perceived as breaching international law, and UN rules and agreements.

Tensions between Iran and the Western world have been linked also to the nuclear deal, from which the USA withdraw after Donald Trump’s election. Iran is prepared to follow the rules based on the Nuclear deal and open a new discussion with the European Union and other participating states.

The situation is more dangerous as the United States is planning to deploy more military units to Iraq including Bombers 52, which are very efficient for aerial attacks. Iran has been trying to use just its rhetoric to frighten off the USA, but as Iranian borders are being threatened more and more, what can Iran do more than to protect itself? Maybe today’s Iranian attack on the US military base in Iraq is a reaction to that as Iranian Minister of foreign affairs Zarif said this morning. They are just using proportionate measures to defend their country. If none of the actors show a will for an open discussion, we will be on the edge of a new war in the Middle East. Iraq as a neighbouring state of Iran got stuck between these two powers as the US military units are remaining within Iraqi territory and people there worry about their future as they might become again an open battle-field.

Author: Tereza Novotná

Photo: ČTK