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

Jeremy Corbyn
Tom Coburg

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:

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

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