MSNBC's Ayman Mohyeldin: Soleimani Was 'Complicated,' U.S. Government Not Credible

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In the aftermath of the strike that took out Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps top general Qasem Soleimani on Friday, MSNBC's Ayman Mohyeldin managed to question the legality of the strike, portray Soleimani has a "complicated" man, and to question the government's assessment of the threat he posed.

In the first of multiple Friday appearances, Mohyeldin joined MSNBC Live host Stephanie Ruhle who asked him to compare Soleimani with Osama Bin Laden. After pointing out some differences between the two, mainly that Soleimani worked for Iran and Bin Laden was a non-state actor, Mohyeldin argued that his state affiliation made him a complicated individual. "He led the paramilitary forces that were carrying out some of the these attacks against American forces and killing them, but at the same time, just to give you a sense of how complex and complicated of a man he was. He also led those same paramilitary forces to fight against ISIS ... So, he's a person who led forces against America and also against America's enemies including ISIS and Al-Qaeda."

 

 

So what? People who try to rehabilitate Joseph Stalin's reputation claim that he fought the Nazis, that doesn't make him "complicated." Just because an evil man fights other evil men, does not make him "complicated."

That "complicated" nature, according to Mohyeldin, also brings into question the strike's legality, "So, to simply brush him off and say he's obviously been removed from the battlefield as Mike Pompeo has claimed this morning as a result of the imminent attack raises a whole lot of questions about the legality of the attack."

There's nothing either in American constitutional law or international law that prohibits the idea of preemptive self-defense.

A few hours later, Mohyeldin again joined Ruhle and her afternoon co-host Ali Velshi to expand on the idea of legality.

 

 

He told Velshi that, "You know that under international law and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings has made this very clear: you can't kill someone based on their past action." Except Soleimani was a uniformed officer who was planning an attack, he is a battlefield casualty; there was nothing "extrajudicial" about it.

He followed up that the United States under President Trump cannot be trusted, "They obviously haven’t provided that evidence. It is interesting to see and important to emphasize that it is hard to believe the American government on something like this without them and especially this Administration without them put forward, some clear evidence."

So much for trusting civil servants and uniformed military officers.

In the same segment, MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance touted the effectiveness of Iran using its proxies against America.

Here are the transcripts for the January 3 shows:

MSNBC

MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle

9:03 AM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: When Osama Bin Laden was killed people in this country were celebrating, they were cheering, we knew his name, we knew his awful work, but very few people here actually know who General Soleimani is, but in terms of the actual threat, Osama bin Laden versus Soleimani pose to the American people, how do they compare? 

AYMAN MOHYELDIN: Very different to be honest with you. Although the U.S. would consider or make the argument that Qasem Soleimani was part of what it has designated as a terrorist foreign organization like Al-Qaeda. It is a stretch to try to compare these two men in any way, shape, or form. First of all Qasem Soleimani is a member of a sovereign state and a member of the military force, he is a state actor, so to speak, but he did, no doubt have influence in a lot of non-state actors in the region and that is where a lot of Americans would be concerned to know about what he was doing in the region because through his paramilitary proxies in countries like Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq. Particularly in Iraq throughout the American invasion in that country, he led the paramilitary forces that were carrying out some of the these attacks against American forces and killing them.

But at the same time, just to give you a sense of how complex and complicated of a man he was. He also led those same paramilitary forces to fight ISIS when the Iraqi government pretty much lost the northern part of that country to terrorist organizations. So, he's a person who led forces against America and also against America's enemies including ISIS and Al-Qaeda. So, to simply brush him off and say he's obviously been removed from the battlefield as Mike Pompeo has claimed this morning as a result of the imminent attack raises a whole lot of questions about the legality of the attack ask raises questions about the American strategy against Iran in the region. Whether we are moving the region to a safer place or not. And obviously, you are hearing the Trump Administration make the case that America is safer today as a result of this. A lot of people would argue actually, no, America and its allies as a result of this killing are probably not that much safer in the long run.

 MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle

1:17 PM ET

ALI VELSHI: All those technicals that Iran had in the region were run by Qassem Soleimani. That he was dangerous is not a question. What do we know about this whole idea that he was planning something imminent on Americans. 

MOHYELDIN: Well, all we have for that right now is the American account that's put forward by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo he said there was an imminent attack. Interestingly enough its kind of evolved the logic behind the American strike. Yesterday the first reports came out said he was planning future attacks and somewhat ambiguous. This morning, they were sharper in the language that they use “imminent attack.” But, the reality is they're trying to meet a certain threshold for certain justifications for carrying out this attack. You know that under international law and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings has made this very clear: you can't kill someone based on their past action. You can kill someone if you know you are going to neutralize an imminent threat coming from that person.

So, obviously today the U.S. Is putting that message out. Saying, “look we had imminent concerns, he was about to kill more Americans or carry out an attack.” They obviously haven’t provided that evidence. It is interesting to see and important to emphasize that it is hard to believe the American government on something like this without them and especially this Administration without them put forward, some clear evidence, some clear intelligence that American lives were at stake and they were only able to avert the loss of American lives by killing him now at this point.

 

 
NB Daily Foreign Policy Middle East Iran MSNBC MSNBC Live Video Stephanie Ruhle Ali Velshi Ayman Mohyeldin Donald Trump Mike Pompeo Qasem Soleimani

 

 
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