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Iran cites the UN Charter in attacks on US army bases

The attack was in retaliation to the US killing of Iranian commander Soleimani a few days earlier. Iran indicated that it was exercising its right to self-defence under the UN Charter

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By AfricaLegalNews Correspondent

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards launched attacks on two US bases in Iraqi on Wednesday morning. The attack was in retaliation to the US killing of Iranian commander Soleimani a few days earlier. The State indicated that it was exercising its right to self-defence under the UN Charter.

Iranian forces fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at about 2230hrs GMT or 0030hrs CAT. Al-Jazeera reported that Iran also claimed that over 80 “American terrorists” died in the attack. However other States making up coalition forces in Iraqi have reported zero causalities.

A wiki commons graphic showing US army bases in Iraqi

Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister, announced on Twitter that “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of Un Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attacks against our citizens & senor officials were launched.”

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter states that:

“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has also announced that “Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”

The world is closely watching these developments in the Middle East with hopes that they do not escalate into a more dangerous conflict that could suck in more States and probably precipitate a World War Three scenario.

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Middle East

Middle East: The US killing of Commander Soleimani of Iran a possible Crime of Aggression?

The killing also raised the question of whether international law has been violated or not. How that question will be answered depends on whether the US, Iran and Iraqi are in a state of war.

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On Friday 3 January 2020, in the morning, a United States drone attack killed Qassim Soleimani, commander of Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force at Baghdad International Airport in Iraqi.

In the attack, ten other people were reportedly killed, including five members of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.

The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps is an elite revolutionary force in Iran which is separate from the Iranian Army. The US and Iran have been at each other’s throats for many years. The latest incident begs the question of whether international law has been violated, especially the crime of aggression.

The US Justification

The US seemingly had long considered the Islamic Republic of Iran as an enemy. In April 2019, the State Department designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “in its entirety”. At the time, the State Department announced that  “The IRGC has been directly involved in terrorist plotting; its support for terrorism is foundational and institutional, and it has killed US citizens. It is also responsible for taking hostages and wrongfully detaining numerous US persons, several of whom remain in captivity in Iran today.”

The statement also added that “The Iranian regime has made a clear choice not only to fund and equip, but also to fuel terrorism, violence, and unrest across the Middle East and around the world at the expense of its own people. The Iranian regime is responsible for the deaths of at least 603 American service members in Iraq since 2003. This accounts for 17% of all deaths of US personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies.”

The US justified the killing on the grounds of pre-empting a planned attack on US citizens. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was planning imminent action that threatened American citizens. “He [Soleimani] was actively plotting in the region to take actions – a big action, as he described it – that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk,” Pompeo told CNN.

Other American officials and politicians differed with the method used by the Trump administration. Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, for instance, released a statement on Twitter saying that there should be respect for the lawful and constitutional role of Congress which ought to have been consulted before the President ordered the strike.

International Law and the Crime of Aggression

The actions of the United States arguably had the potential to escalate global tensions. According to Al-Jazeera, Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the killing as an act of “international terrorism”.

The killing also raised the question of whether international law has been violated or not. How that question will be answered depends on whether the US, Iran and Iraqi are in a state of war.

If not, international law frowns upon actions of aggression. The Kampala Amendment on the Crime of Aggression defines the crime of aggression as “the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The Crime Of Aggression was activated on from 17 July 2018, and therefore the International Criminal Court can prosecute leaders responsible for waging aggressive war. Around 39 States have ratified the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression, at the time the AfricaLegalNews team was writing this article. In Africa, only Botswana has ratified the amendments so far.

(AfricaLegalNews seeks to provide a critical platform for all people to share om a simplified way, discussions and ideas on African and global law and society. Comments and responses are welcome since this is a developing story. Email: africalegalnews@gmail.com)

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Death Penalty

Egypt: Court sentences 7 to death over killing policemen

Egypt has seen worrisome crackdown on opposition forces and militants especially following the military overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

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The Cairo Criminal Court in Egypt on Monday 25 November 2019 sentenced seven people to death. This was in connection with 2015/ killings of eleven policemen, including eight killed in a microbus. The charges also included joining a terrorist group and possession of weapons and explosives.

The Court also sentenced 18 people  to jail with terms varying between 10-15 years while seven people were found not guilty.

The accused persons are alleged to have formed a terrorist cell for assassinating police men in Helwan City.

The verdicts can be appealed however.

Egypt has seen worrisome crackdown on opposition forces and militants especially following the military overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Morsi himself died in court in June 2019.

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