Image released by the Iraqi prime minister's press office
Of all the contested sites of commemoration, memorial and popular politics, this is the newest!
One thing seems obvious, this place will play a part in the narrative of future violence within the region and will amplify a feeling of fear and mistrust within the communities struggling to live the best they can in such a precarious conditions created through war.
How many outside Iraq have given thought to this new place of violence created by the strike. A place imbued with meaning and significance, a place that everyone using Iraq’s busy international airport (me included) will pass and be reminded of the assassination. For some it will remind them that nowhere is safe if you choose to confront the United States of America, for many outside the USA, it might resonate the awkward feeling that nowhere is safe.
By assassinating Gen Qassem Soleimani in such dramatic fashion (despite the various opinions are on the morality, politics and strategies behind it), the USA and its MQ-9 Reaper drone have created an important ‘Place’ that wasn’t there only a few days before, a culturally significant place that has changed the nature of an international airport and the experience of all those using it. A place that will enviably develop a complex set of narratives such as, violence, struggle, vengeance and heroism, underpin by a glut of interpretations and ‘Chinese whispers’ naturally played by the people who pass by, the media and politicians alike
Of those that pass, I can imagine that the majority will be our fellow humans in Iraq, Syrian and Iran that working at, or use the international airport, local taxis will drive by many times a day, NGOs will pass through, politicians, military personnel, family members visiting relatives, buses full of travels and international visitors will know and look-out for the ‘Place’ where America flouted sovereign law and killed not only Soleimani but four other IRGC officers ( Brigadier General Hossein Pourjafari, Colonel Shahroud Mozafarinia, Major Hadi Taremi and Captain Vahid Zamanian) and five Iraqi members of the PMF (deputy chairman Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, chief of protocol and public relations Muhammed Reza al-Jaberi, Mohammad al-Shibani, Hassan Abdul Hadi and Heydar Ali) (click here for reference).
As the United states appear to move on from their “latest in a long, grim line of US assassination efforts” with an air of success, its seem very important to recognise this new place that will play a significant role in future conflict and peacebuilding ambitions.