By Afshin Majlesi

World reacts to Trump’s threat to raid Iranian culture targets as ‘a war crime’

January 5, 2020 - 15:48

TEHRAN - Donald Trump’s new threat to attack 52 important targets in Iran, including cultural sites, has provoked a strong backlash worldwide, with many calling it a “war crime.”

On Saturday, the U.S. president said on Twitter that his military would strike “very important” targets related to Iran if the Iranians attempted to take retaliatory action against the U.S. for the assassination of a senior military commander in the Iraqi capital Baghdad early on Friday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in reaction to the threat said such a move would be filed as a war crime and another breach of international law.

“Having committed grave breaches of int'l law in Friday's cowardly assassinations, @realdonaldtrump threatens to commit again new breaches of JUS COGENS,” Zarif wrote in a tweet on Sunday.

“Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME; Whether kicking or screaming, end of U.S. malign presence in West Asia has begun,” Zarif added.

Trump’s rhetoric came in response to an Iranian threat to strike 35 U.S. targets in the region in retaliation for the American drone strike that assassinated Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Press TV reported.

“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have.........targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,” Trump said. “The USA wants no more threats!”

This is while the Geneva Convention Protocol 1 bans “any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.”

Many social media users were quick to say that deliberately attacking cultural sites would be a war crime.

Ryan Goodman, a former special counsel at the U.S. Department of Defense also emphasized that targeting “the clearly-recognized historic monuments, works of art or places of worship” was a war crime.

Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and national security adviser to ex-vice president Joe Biden said that “the Pentagon would not provide Trump targeting options that include Iranian cultural sites.”

John G Hertzler, an actor and an author, reacted by saying that the American people “are not” behind Trump in response to a Twitterer, who said he backed the president.

Eugene Gu, a politically active user on social media, said “the President of the United States should never threaten on Twitter or anywhere else to target another country’s non-military cultural sites.”

Oscar-winning American actor and film narrator Morgan Freeman also lashed out at Trump for threatening to target Iranian cultural sites, stressing that Trump was not his president.

“Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME and makes you no better than the terror you claim to be fighting,” Freeman wrote in a tweet.

“Donald Trump is a TERRORIST Donald Trump is a CHILD ABUSER Donald Trump is a RACIST Donald Trump is a SCAM ARTIST Donald Trump is a SEXIST Donald Trump is a COWARD Donald Trump is a LIAR Donald Trump is a CROOK Donald Trump is a CRIMINAL Donald Trump is NOT MY PRESIDENT,” Freeman wrote in another tweet, Mehr reported.

“The *imminent threat* was to Trump’s presidency. So he started a war,” the Oscar-winning American actor added.

Meanwhile, clusters of protesters pour out onto the streets in Washington and other U.S. cities on Saturday to condemn the air strike in Iraq ordered by Trump that killed General Soleimani and Trump’s decision to send about 3,000 more troops to the Middle East.

“No justice, no peace. U.S. out of the Middle East,” hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the White House before marching to the Trump International Hotel a few blocks away, Reuters reported.

Similar protests were held in New York, Chicago and other cities. Organizers at Code Pink, a women-led anti-war group, said protests were scheduled on Saturday in numerous U.S. cities and towns. Protesters in Washington held signs that read “No war or sanctions on Iran!” and “U.S. troops out of Iraq!”

Public opinion polls show Americans in general have been opposed to U.S. military interventions overseas, Reuters reported. A survey last year by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found 27% of Americans believe military interventions make the United States safer, and nearly half said they make the country less safe.

Iran embraces hundreds of historical sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 22 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, the country aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025.

AFM/MG

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