A week ago, a US air strike that officials (speaking off-the-record) acknowledged was carried out by a Reaper drone, killed senior Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and up to 10 others, travelling in a two-car convoy outside Baghdad airport. The targeted killing of a senior Iranian military officer sent shock waves around the globe and appalled many. International law scholars argued strongly that the strike was unlawful, politicians and diplomats articulated the dangerous impact both locally, regionally and internationally and military officials braced themselves for the inevitable retaliation.
At the time of writing, Iran has launched a ballistic missile attack against two US bases (including the Al Asad base where the US Reaper drone used is thought to be based) although with seemingly no casualties. Both sides now appear, in public at least, to wish to de-escalate from military action.
However, at this stage it’s too early to say the crisis caused by the drone strike is over and the consequences of the attack – including the strong Iraqi push for the withdrawal of US Coalition forces from its territory – remain unclear.
Much has already been written about the Soleimani strike over the past week and there will no doubt be much more over the coming weeks and months. Perhaps the most crucial aspect to be uncovered is when and why the decision was taken to launch the strike.
Some suggest the decision to strike was agreed days or weeks beforehand while others suggest that it was an opportunistic strike, initiated to prevent an imminent attack. Justifications for the strike put forward by US officials since the strike have, as the US media puts it euphemistically, ‘evolved’.
But what cannot be denied is that the strike has its roots in, and builds on a much-expanded culture of targeted killing that has arisen over the past two decades with the advent of armed remote-controlled drones. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Drone Wars website.