04 Jan 2020: The Hindu Editorial Analysis
1) On U.S. killing of Iran commander: An act of war
- Friday’s assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Qods Force for over two decades, in Baghdad, is a reckless and unilateral act of provocation by the U.S. that could trigger another full-scale war in West Asia.
- The strike against Mr. Soleimani and several Iraqi Shia militia members when they were leaving the airport, was apparently in retaliation for the storming of the American Embassy in Baghdad by protesters earlier this week.
- Mr. Soleimani, who had a unique celebrity status among Iran’s military leaders, was highly popular among the hardliners. He was reportedly very close to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who once called him a “living martyr of the revolution”.
- Mr. Soleimani was also the main architect of Iran’s recent foreign operations, mainly in Syria and Iraq, which were crucial in saving the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and defeating the Islamic State (IS) in both countries.
- It was under his leadership that Iran founded and trained Shia militias and despatched them to the battlefields of both Syria and Iraq.
- The militias fought alongside Kurdish paramilitaries and the Iraqi Army, with air support from the U.S. Air Force, against the IS in northern Iraq, from Amirli to Mosul. Ironically, the same soldier who helped the U.S. and the Iraqi government defeat the IS has been assassinated inside Iraq by the Americans.
- This was a crisis foretold by many, and U.S. President Donald Trump is squarely responsible for where U.S.-Iran ties stand today.
- He single-handedly destroyed the détente between the two nations established by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by unilaterally pulling the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and reimposing sanctions on Iran.
- By sabotaging the fragile peace painstakingly negotiated over years between world powers, Mr. Trump, in a single act, pushed both the U.S. and Iran down a dangerous slope.
- Now, with the assassination of Soleimani, Mr. Trump has escalated the crisis to the levels not seen in the past; not even during the siege in 1979 of the American Embassy in Tehran by the revolutionaries.
- It might help an impeached President in an election year to divert attention from his domestic woes and mobilise political support, but for a region already struggling to cope with multiple armed conflicts and external interventions, it could be dangerously consequential.
- The attack has already killed off even the possibility of renegotiating the nuclear deal. Iran might see this as an act of war like any sovereign country would do. A full-scale war with Iran would be totally different from the wars the U.S. has fought in West Asia in recent years.
- It could trigger multiple attacks across the region, destabilising it further, cause heavy casualties and help the jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and the IS regroup and re-emerge.
- It is unfortunate that the U.S., which is struggling to get out of Afghanistan after 18 years of war, which destroyed the Iraqi state 17 years ago, turning parts of the country into fertile ground for jihadists, is triggering another conflict in the Muslim world.
- It seems really strange that in an election year, an impeached American President is provoking a war with Iran!
2) On anti-CAA resolution in Kerala Assembly: Missing the wood
- The Kerala Assembly’s resolution calling upon the Centre to repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, reflects the widespread unease and disquiet the legislation has caused.
- Rather than treat it as a controversy over the question whether a State Assembly is competent to question the law on a matter under the Union government’s domain, the Centre should reflect on the core issue: that the CAA may be in violation of the equality norm and secular principles enshrined in the Constitution.
- Given how deeply the country is divided on the changes in the law, Kerala’s example may set the stage for a wider confrontation between the Centre and States that have expressed their disinclination to give effect to the Centre’s policy in this regard.
- The resolution reflects a legitimate concern that in enacting the CAA, the Centre has written a patently discriminatory norm into the law. There is justified opposition across India on the amendment’s implications, especially in combination with the expected follow-up action in the form of establishing a citizenship register.
- Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is among several CMs who have spoken out against the CAA’s discriminatory nature, but his has been the first regime to adopt a formal resolution for repeal.
- The Centre must make an effort to understand the underpinnings of the ongoing protests against its amendments, of which the Kerala resolution is surely a part.
- Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan have denounced the adoption of such a resolution, the former arguing that all States had a constitutional duty to implement central laws.
- However, the principal objection - that citizenship being a matter concerning the Union, it is not open to State Assemblies to give their opinion on it - is not valid. To the extent that a State government believes that a parliamentary law is not constitutional, it is entirely in order for the State legislature to call for its repeal.
- Further, a resolution is not legislation, and is not governed by the principle of legislative competence. It is only an expression of a political opinion.
- Tamil Nadu, for instance, has passed several resolutions concerning India’s foreign policy - such as asking for a war crimes probe against Sri Lanka and even a referendum on ‘Tamil Eelam’.
- There is a technical problem on the resolution’s admissibility. Kerala Assembly rules say matters pending before a court or those that do not concern the State should not be admitted in the form of a resolution.
- However, these are minor issues. Ultimately, the House Speaker decides on admitting a resolution, and it is an internal matter. Voicing support for the CAA and disapproval of Kerala’s resolution are also valid political opinions.
- But these should not translate into any ill-advised action such as hauling up the Chief Minister before the Privileges Committee of Parliament. Rather than denouncing Kerala’s CAA resolution, Centre must seek to understand the objections.