Thoughtful engagement with US and Iran is what’s needed now | Letters

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Retired colonel Simon Diggins says restraint is best when responding to Qassem Suleimani’s assassination and Flavio Centofanti throws doubt on Donald Trump’s justification for the attack

Your editorial (6 January) on Qassem Suleimani’s assassination seems designed to appeal more to the “two legs bad, four legs good” anti-American left than to enlighten. Indubitably, timing, location and uncertain “consequence management” of this attack by the US are problematic. But your central assertions that the UK will be reduced to lapdog status by the need to jump into the same trench as the US and that an “imminent threat” by Suleimani had not been proved are overwrought.

On the latter, in the past 10 days, the US embassy and a joint US-Iraqi base in Kirkuk were attacked by an Iraqi Shia militia owing more loyalty to Suleimani than to the Iraqi state. One US contractor was killed but this was happenstance, not restraint. Suleimani’s attitude towards people’s lives are better revealed by the recent al-Quds-organised attacks on a Saudi oil refinery and Gulf shipping. That he wasn’t caught with a gun pointed at a US soldier is irrelevant. He was a general after all and didn’t need to be so directly engaged. His intent was clear, even if the imminent threat was more opaque.

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