A Culmination of the Hostilities: The Arrest Warrant on Donald Trump
by Boran GÖHER
Over the 4 years of the Donald J. Trump administration, one of the USA’s most consistent foreign policies has been hostility towards Iran. President Trump first started attacking the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was seen as one of the greatest diplomatic breakthroughs of the Obama presidency. The plan, in essence, constricted the ability of Iran to produce nuclear weapons by limiting its uranium stockpile and uranium enrichment rate. In compliance with the plan, Iran shut down nearly two-thirds of their enrichment centrifuges and reduced their stockpile to less than a twentieth of what it was. Additionally, whether Iran obeyed the plan would be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In return, all sanctions related to Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons were lifted in January of 2016. (1)
President Trump and other key figures of the current administration expressed concern over the timed clauses of the Plan, which were set to expire at certain dates, stating that Iran could rapidly develop nuclear weapons after their expiration. Thus, the USA unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, an action that was met with the scrutiny of key American allies such as Germany and France. A year later, the Iranian government announced that they would stop complying with the JCPOA and started to ramp up the number of active centrifuges and the uranium enrichment rate. This turn of events has caused many key figures, such as Emmanuel Macron, (2) to express concern over the sustainability of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region.
The Iran nuclear deal, as it is informally known, was not the only source of conflict between the USA and Iran in this 4-year period, however, President Trump has made many hostile remarks towards Iran in an official capacity. Stating that Iran is the “leading sponsor of terrorism” and accusing Iran or Irani-backed groups of many terrorist attacks in the Middle East. (3) One key figure who was subject to much speculation, accusation, and discussion was one Qasem Soleimani. The Trump Administration accused Soleimani of being the mastermind behind many attacks on U.S soldiers in the Middle East and a threat to peace within the region. This did not go over well with the Iranian government, as many Iranians considered Soleimani a national hero, in addition to being the right-hand man of Ayatollah Khamenei and the second most influential man in the country after him. (4)
Thus, when the hostilities between the USA and Iran led to the assassination of Soleimani, which the U.S took full credit for, the already precarious relationship between the countries was thrown into hellfire. Shortly after the attack, Iran commenced a strike on key American bases in Iraq which, thankfully, did not result in any casualties. Yet, having placed themselves on warpath after the assassination, the Irani response would not end there. For months, the representatives of the two countries attacked each other whenever possible, and relations further deteriorated. Ultimately, on the 27th of July this year, Iran placed out arrest warrants on 36 key figures accused of being behind the assassination. The most striking of these figures was the current President of The United States, Donald J. Trump.
In response, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook has stated that the warrant was simply a “propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish," (5). The statements by the Interpol on the issue are a point of support for this position. Interpol has stated that, if the Iranian government requests that they carry out the arrests, they will not comply, as the Interpol would not “undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.", as per their constitution. (6) It is unlikely, however, that Iran hoped for international action against the USA with these warrants. Thus far, the statements by the Interpol and the USA have been very predictable and nothing that Iran could not have foreseen.
Yet, the Iranian government decided to publish the warrants, in what is most likely a move to highlight the perceived status of the United States as the aggressor. Again, most likely recognizing all along that this action would, at the very best, only cause diplomatic inconveniences for the U.S and not much more. Still, the arrest warrants stand as a powerful indicator of Iran’s current foreign policy towards the USA. Whether the U.S is truly the aggressor is up for debate, along with the usefulness of the warrants. But the Trump administration has not provided any evidence of Soleimani’s planned attacks towards American bases, which they used as the excuse for his murder. On the other hand, many still think that Iran is one of the greatest causes of instability and the terrorism present in the Middle East, and the U.S is justified in taking action. No matter which side one stands on though, it is clear that the hostilities between Iran and the United States of America will be significant in the international political discourse of the near future.