US President Donald Trump has faced growing criticism over his threats to attack Iran’s cultural websites.
Mr Trump made the risks amidst fallout from the United States assassination of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani.
The president said cultural websites were among 52 identified Iranian targets that might be assaulted if Iranians “abuse, maim and explode our individuals”.
But the UN’s cultural organisation and UK foreign secretary were among those to note that such websites were secured.
The United States and Iran have actually signed conventions to secure cultural heritage, consisting of during conflict. Military attacks targeting cultural sites are considered war criminal offenses under international law.
Qasem Soleimani was killed in an US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday on the orders of Mr Trump. The killing has actually greatly increased local stress, with Iran threatening “severe vengeance”.
Mike Pompeo What were the president’s hazards?
The very first was available in a series of tweets on Saturday.
Mr Trump stated the United States had determined 52 Iranian sites, some “at an extremely high level and crucial to Iran and the Iranian culture”, and cautioned they would be “struck extremely fast and hard” if Tehran brought out revenge attacks on United States interests or workers.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to try to soften the threat by saying the US would act within international law.
But the president later on repeated his threat, saying: “They’re enabled to eliminate our people, they’re permitted to torture and incapacitate our people, they’re permitted to use roadside bombs and explode our people – and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural website? It does not work that method.”
On Monday, White House advisor Kellyanne Conway defended the president, saying he had not stated he was targeting cultural sites, only “asking the question”.
She likewise stated: “Iran has many strategic military websites that you may point out are also cultural sites”, before later clarifying her remark to state she was not suggesting Iran had actually camouflaged military targets as cultural sites.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper was later on asked if the US would target cultural websites, and stated: “We will follow the laws of armed conflict.”
When asked if that implied no, “since targeting a cultural site is a war criminal activity?”, he reacted: “That’s the laws of armed dispute.”
Mike Pompeo What criticism did his comments draw?
The director general of the UN’s cultural organisation, Unesco, Audrey Azoulay, stated both Iran and the US had actually signed a1972 convention to secure the world’s natural and cultural heritage
They have likewise both signed a 1954 convention protecting cultural home in the event of armed conflict Mr Trump withdrew the US from Unesco in 2018, citing supposed anti-Israeli bias.
US Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Chris Murphy said Mr Trump was “threatening to commit war crimes”, echoing similar declarations by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said cultural websites were safeguarded by worldwide law, and Britain expected that to be respected.
The broader region has actually suffered lots of cultural attacks performed by the Islamic State group, which targeted mosques, shrines, churches and popular sites such as Palmyra in Syria. The Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed the world’s tallest Buddha statues, in Bamiyan province.
Mike Pompeo Trump’s cultural websites danger unites Iranians
By Sam Farzaneh, BBC Persian
As quickly as the news of the killing of Qasem Soleimani broke, Iranians were divided. Some were upset and some commemorated it on social media.
The department got awful on Twitter. Some were accused of being victims of “Stockholm syndrome” due to the fact that they were mad about the killing, and others were identified traitors.
But US President Donald Trump’s tweet threatening the targeting of Iran’s cultural websites united Iranians versus him.
A few of the sites are religious and some are not, but nonreligious and spiritual Iranians are happy of their heritage and came together to denounce the president’s threats. Absolutely nothing could much better unify divided Iranians at home and in the diaspora than a struck on their precious past.
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Iran’s foreign minister took the chance and in several tweets compared President Trump to the Islamic State group, which damaged lots of cultural sites in Syria.
Mike Pompeo Iran’s leading cultural websites
Iran is house to two dozen Unesco World Heritage websites. These are landmarks the UN body thinks need preserving for their cultural, historical or scientific significance. They consist of:
- Behistun, in Kermanshah province, where there is a bas-relief and cuneiform engraving ordered by Darius I, The Great, in the 6th Century BC
- Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the city of Isfahan, which was integrated in the early 17 th Century and is among the biggest city squares worldwide
- Golestan Palace in Tehran, the home and seat of power for the Qajar dynasty which ruled Iran from 1785 to 1925
There are also a variety of websites which – while not noted by Unesco – still keep big cultural importance.
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