The memo provides the legal rationale behind the controversial January 2, 2020, drone strike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and several leaders of the militia Kata’ib Hezbollah while in Baghdad, Iraq.
Latest in Qassem Soleimani
The managed escalation in response to the targeting of Qassem Soleimani avoided an all-out war—just as it was intended to do.
The U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on July 6 submitted a report claiming the January done strike in Iraq that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani constituted a violation of international law.
Speaking at Brigham Young University, Defense Department General Counsel Paul Nye offered the most-detailed defense we have yet seen of the Soleimani airstrike, addressing both international and domestic law as well as the underlying facts.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Feb. 28 at 8:30 a.m. on the Trump administration's policies on Iran, Iraq and the use of force. The committee will hear testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The hearing will be the first opportunity for lawmakers to press Pompeo on the Trump administration’s legal justification for the strike against Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani.
You can watch a livestream of the hearing here and below.
The United States could start by clarifying its objectives.
The United States claims to have “exercised its inherent right of self-defense” in accordance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter in conducting a drone strike in Iraq targeting Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.
Both sides are sending mixed messages, which can be disastrous for deterrence.
The strike on Qassem Soleimani will weaken an international ban that has been an advantage to powerful states like the United States.
While the United States prohibits assassination as a matter of national policy, not every killing violates this ban. And even if the killing did not have an international legal basis, it may not necessarily constitute an assassination under the U.S. government’s definition of the term.