Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the assassination of Iran’s top general and head of the Quds Force Qasem Soleimani by the United States was “illegal under any law” in an interview with Sky News. The 70-year-old refused to call Soleimani a terrorist after he was questioned about it four times and said the United States must not violate laws if it wants other countries to stand by international law.
His statement comes after the Labour leader lambasted Washington for its decision to kill Soleimani and demanded answers from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace over the issue. In his speech to the House of Commons, Corbyn called Washington’s move an “extremely dangerous and aggressive act” that may plunge the Middle East into yet another war.
The 70-year-old politician claimed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hiding behind Defence Secretary Wallace as he demanded answers on Britain’s response to the escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States. Corbyn reminded parliamentarians of US interventions in the Middle East and stressed that Parliament must prevent Britain from aiding the United States in yet another military conflict in an apparent reference to the UK’s support for the US invasion of Iraq, which was regarded as illegal by the international community.
"Many of us opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the failed invasion of Afghanistan and I opposed the bombing of Libya in 2011. Have we learnt nothing from those events? This House must rule out plunging our country into yet another devastating war at the behest of another state”, Jeremy Corbyn said in his speech to the House of Commons.
In the same speech, the Labour leader also criticised Britain’s reaction to the killing of Soleimani, in particular the fact that the UK’s call for calm was directed at the injured party – Iran. "I wonder if Iran had assassinated an American general whether the British government would be telling Washington that the onus was entirely on the US to de-escalate", Mr Corbyn told MPs.
His comments come as PM Johnson summoned ministers for an urgent meeting to discuss the crisis between Iran and the United States. The prime minister set the government position on “the importance of protecting British citizens and interests and de-escalating tensions”.
The development follows Iran's launch of missile strikes against two airbases in Iraq housing US troops in what Tehran said was retaliation for the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, who was killed during a US drone strike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad at the behest of President Trump. The United States defended its decision, saying that Iran’s top military commander was planning an attack on US forces without providing any evidence to its claim and said it acted in self-defence.