Socialist leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn was given four opportunities to call Iranian General Qasem Soleimani a terrorist but failed to every time.
The refusal to address whether he accepted that Soleimani was a terrorist came during an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, where the socialist deflected the questions by pushing the angle that President Donald Trump’s move was “an illegal act”.
Mr Corbyn was first asked whether he doubted Soleimani was “engaged in terrorist activity” when he was taken out by a U.S. airstrike last week.
Avoiding to acknowledge the designation “terrorist”, the outgoing leader of the Labour Party said: “He was in Iraq for reasons of contact, I assume, with the Iraqi government. I’ve no idea what his actual meetings were. All I’m saying that to assassinate an official of a foreign government in a third country, Iraq, is illegal under any law.”
Watch Jeremy Corbyn answer questions about whether Soleimani was a terrorist pic.twitter.com/qNvJcZGxrn
— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) January 7, 2020
When asked directly, “Do you accept that Soleimani was a terrorist, commissioning terrorist acts against coalition forces in a range of countries?” He responded: “I’m not here to defend special forces of Iran.”
Mr Corbyn came under criticism for his ties to the Iranian regime after it was revealed in 2016 that he had accepted £20,000 from the Islamic republic’s state-run international English-language media outlet Press TV. Ofcom revoked the network’s British broadcasting licence in 2012 after it aired the forced confession obtained through torture of Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari.
When confronted with a quotation of Boris Johnson calling Soleimani a “terrorist who commissioned terror against the West, U.S., and coalition forces”, the leader of the Opposition would not answer whether he agreed with that assessment.
Ignoring the question entirely, instead, he criticised Mr Johnson for sending his defence secretary, Ben Wallace, to answer questions on the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday and condemned the prime minister for not responding to his letter on Soleimani’s death.
During the debate, Mr Corbyn had claimed that Johnson was too “scared to stand up to President Trump because he’s hitched his wagon to the prospect of a toxic Trump trade deal”. In response, Defence secretary Wallace accused the socialist of “anti-Americanism” and reminded the House: “General Soleimani was no friend of the UK or our allies in the region… He encouraged proxies to develop weapons such as improvised explosive devises that killed and maimed UK soldiers and other Western forces. ”
UK Defence Sec Accuses Corbyn of ‘Anti-Americanism’ in Soleimani Debate https://t.co/jP8Z9O06XT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 8, 2020
When asked explicitly for the fourth time on Sky News: “Soleimani. Terrorist. Yes or no?” the Labour leader said: “Soleimani was the head of special forces for Iran. They, obviously, are operating in all kinds of places that you and I would not agree with. That is not the point. The point is it’s an illegal act that took place, and if we want to end illegal acts by anybody, you don’t commit them yourself.”
Mr Corbyn raised again the alleged illegality of the airstrike during Prime Minister’s Questions, prompting Mr Johnson to respond: “The United States has a right to protect its bases and personnel. I would remind the House that Qasem Soleimani was not only responsible for arming the Houthis with missiles… [but] arming Hezbollah… sustaining the Assad regime in Syria, one of the most brutal and barbaric regimes in the world, and supplying improvised explosive devices to terrorists who killed and maimed British troops. That man had the blood of British troops on his hands.”