Ex-UK ambassador to Tehran backs Corbyn’s assessment of the murder of Iranian general

Jeremy Corbyn
Support us and go ad-free

This article was updated at 18:05 on 10 January. It previously stated that Boris Johnson did not respond to Jeremy Corbyn’s request for a Privy Council briefing. However, Johnson refused the request.

A former UK ambassador to Tehran has confirmed that Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was in Iraq as part of a peace mission to Saudi Arabia, with the full agreement of the Iraqi government, when he was assassinated by a US drone strike on the orders of president Donald Trump.

Richard Dalton added that the decision to assassinate the general was “reckless”, the same term used by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when giving his assessment of what happened.

Peace mission

On 9 January, Dalton, the UK ambassador to Iran from 2003 to 2006, was interviewed on BBC Breakfast TV. When asked about Soleimani, he was forthright, stating that the general was on a peace mission with the agreement of the Iraqi government.

The episode has now expired on the BBC‘s website.

Fortunately, one Twitter user put together an (unverified) transcript of the interview with Dalton (and colonel Tim Collins) in this thread:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

And on 5 January, Washington Post reporter Mustafa Salim tweeted that Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi stated that he had arranged to meet with Soleimani on the day he was assassinated:

A report by CNN also confirms Soleimani’s role in helping to crush Daesh (Isis/Isil):


Later, on BBC Five Live, Dalton described the decision by Trump to kill Soleimani as “reckless”.

This also echoed Corbyn’s words. He described Trump’s decision as “reckless” and that the killing was illegal (“lawless”):

On 3 January, Corbyn formally requested a briefing from the Privy Council on the crisis:

Johnson refused the request.


Daesh will be celebrating the death of not only the general but also Abu Mahdi, deputy head of the PMF (Iraqi militias who fought Daesh). This analysis by the Grayzone explains why:

But perhaps the most immediate consequence is the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane not long after leaving Tehran, with all people onboard killed. There are now claims that the plane was hit by a missile.

Importantly, as  Fréa Lockley argued previously in The Canary, It’s crucial not to lionise Soleimani (or Mahdi):

Because some called him “a genocidal man” responsible for killing “thousands of men, women, and children in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen”. Equally, Iran’s human rights record is appalling, particularly for women. And according to Reporters Without Borders, Iran is one of the world’s “five biggest prisons” for journalists and internet activists.

Meanwhile, the world awaits the wider consequences of Trump’s “reckless” decision. Though one thing is certain: Corbyn’s assessment of the situation was, once again, spot on.

Featured image via screenshot

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us