ASSASSINATION OF GEN. SOLEIMANI: A GEOPOLITICAL PERSPECTIVE.

There are many contending global powers when it comes to foreign policy formulation in contemporary geopolitics. These contentions sometimes end up in conflicts and ultimately total civil conflagration within and among states. What often bring about such events are largely ideological inclinations firmly-rooted in disposition of the leader; be it a REALIST or LIBERAL.

Since the days of 1648 Treaty of Westphalia and subsequent two World Wars which culminated in the Cold War era, governance of independent states have largely revolved around two major theories of REALISM and LIBERALISM.

For the Realist, the interests of State take precedence in all policy formulation, both internal and external. And to achieve this, hard power, by way of military and economic might is employed.

Ideological inclination

Indeed, a country’s foreign policy, to the large extent, is influenced by ideological inclination of the leader, and a good example of this is “AMERICA FIRST” adopted by the President of America, Donald Trump.

Simply put, the America Fist policy is rail-rolling policy alternatives that will always guarantee maximum benefits to the country and its people. This is why, since taking office, Donald Trump has, systematically, withdrawn from many treaties and trade agreements his predecessor, Barack Obama, entered into.

NAFTA to USMCA

A classic example is the North America Free Trade Area (NAFTA) which was a trade agreement amongst Mexico, America and Canada. But upon assumption of office, Donald Trump, by his Realist instincts, decided to withdraw from an agreement which paved way for American companies to relocate across the border into Mexico.

As a result, these companies enjoy cutting-down cost of production through cheap labor, and then export these very finished products back into America at no tariffs. NAFTA has been renegotiated and replaced with US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement with enhanced articles protecting intellectual properties

Similarly, he has withdrawn from an initiative with Cuba signed under his predecessor, which granted some reliefs to Cuban-Americans to freely visit Cuba as well as sending remittances back home. Aspects of decades of sanctions imposed on Cuba were also relaxed to allow American tourists to visit the communist’s island.

US-North Korea tensions

At a point in time, Donald Trump nearly pushed America to the brink of war with North Korea because the soft diplomacy employed by his predecessor was considered a position of weakness which was completely at variance with the American global hegemonic power status.

Relations between Trump and Kim Jon Il, the north Korean Leader, degenerated to the point where these two leaders were literally engaged in war of words, and sometimes plain insults.

This very disposition of trump led him into withdrawing from nuclear treaty with Iran; and the consequences of that policy shift are what have landed us in a situation where these two states are currently at each-other’s throat, with its ultimate global ramifications.

Iraqi societal meltdown

Following the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, that country has never had a stable government and a functional society. The country has therefore become a breeding-ground for sectarianism and mushrooming of radical islamists, of whom al-qaeda and ISIS are notorious associates.

As a matter of fact, most key members of current Iraqi political elites were born in Iran or have close-ties with that country and this is a testament that Iran has great influence in Iraqi political dynamics and general security architecture.

This is why the slain Qasem Soleimani, then leader of Qudds Force, which is an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was killed while on a mission in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

General Soleimani is believed to have been closely-lined to the Popular Mobilization Force; a Shia paramilitary group in Iraq which was armed and supported by Iran to fight against American presence in Iraq.

Conspiracy theory

Worryingly, is this conspiracy theory that elements within the Iraqi government opposed to Iranian influence in the country, actually provided Americans with intelligence on Gen. Soleimani’s movements to make the targeted assassination possible.

Following Gen. Soleimani’s assassination, there were both pro and against protests at Iraq’s Tahir Square. Now, this development, invariably, will infuriate Iranian proxies within the Iraqi government, as well as the general populace, to embark on revenge attacks which will rekindle the age-old deadly sectarian violence in an already war-ravaged country.

Floodgates

So with the move by President Trump to assassinate Gen. Soleimani without expressed consent of Congress by way of Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF), invariably has opened the floodgates to numerous Iranian-affiliated Shia cells in the Middle East, such as Hezbollah, a formidable unit of the Lebanese political structure with enormous military force and parliamentary majority, the Houthis force in Yemen and others in both Syria and Iraq, to crystallize into a deadly insurgence. 

Within a few hours following the killing of Gen. Soleimani, oil prices shot up by $3 and with the prospects of the conflicting escalating into a full-blown war, the oil prices are going to sky-rocket, with its debilitating effects on the global economy.

For instance, the Straight of Hurmuz through which 1/5 of global oil traffic passes daily could easy be blockaded by these Iranian-affiliated proxies and further push the global economy into a possible recession.

Soft power

Indeed, the ideology of capitalism which is rooted in the theory of Realism has prevailed over the years.

However, what really befits the contemporary shift to globalization where Liberalism or soft-power by way of cooperation and integration through trade, democratic governance, diplomacy and dialogue, has proven to be the best alternative to global peace and stability.

Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei

School of International Relations and Diplomacy

GIMPA, Green-Hill, Accra

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