Bolsonaro at the Hungarian embassy and an Israeli airstrike against Iran

Bolsonaro at the Hungarian embassy and an Israeli airstrike against Iran
Bolsonaro at the Hungarian embassy and an Israeli airstrike against Iran
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The Swedish embassy in Brazil is holding an official ceremony to mark the country’s entry into NATO – which will not be able to install bases at the Brazilian address.| Photo: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

An Israeli air strike against the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, the capital of Syria, left at least eight people dead. Among the dead was General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, from the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran, a country currently allied with Syria. In addition to the Iranian government promising to retaliate, the episode allows us to look at a myth perpetuated and recently repeated with Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to the Hungarian embassy in Brasília.

It is not the first Israeli air strike into the heart of the capital of Bashar al-Assad’s Syria. To focus on the events following the Hamas terrorist attack in October 2023, Israel carried out three attacks on the airports of Damascus and Aleppo, later that month. On January 20, 2024, another Iranian general, Sadegh Omidzadeh, was killed alongside Iranian intelligence officers, also in Damascus. Omidzadeh was one of the possible “successors” of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

Israeli air strike

Soleimani, killed in Baghdad in January 2020, was the architect of the so-called “Axis of Resistance”, the expansion of the influence of the Quds Force across countries neighboring Iran, “surrounding” Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Quds Force is the clandestine operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (GRI), but operates as an independent organization. If the GRI is a “state within a state” in Iran, the Quds Force is the “state within a state” of the GRI, with very little publicity for its actions.

Soleimani’s Axis of Resistance placed the various militias and Shiite forces in the region, in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, under Iranian influence, in addition to deepening the alliance with the Lebanese Hezbollah and establishing an alliance with Hamas. The Yemeni Houthis and Hamas, historically speaking, were antagonistic to Iranian influence, for a number of reasons. It was also Soleimani who first articulated Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war.

Israel then managed, in a few months, to carry out air strikes inside Syrian territory and cause significant casualties to Iran. The country manages to do this with the primacy of military technology it enjoys in the region, operating F-35 fighters, produced in the USA and developed through a costly consortium of several US-allied countries. Israel is the only country in the region that uses sensitive equipment like this, as Turkey was excluded from the consortium and the order from the United Arab Emirates was vetoed by the Biden administration.

The aforementioned fighter is, in popular jargon, “invisible to radar”, which helped to explain the virtual Israeli dominance of the skies in its region, especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent reduction of the Russian military contingent in Syria. The Iranian government promised retaliation and conveyed a “special message” to the US via the Swiss embassy in Tehran. Several other countries condemned the episode, such as the Syrian government itself, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Bolsonaro at the Hungarian embassy

How does all this relate to Bolsonaro and his visit to the Hungarian embassy? No one in their right mind will say that Israel directly attacked Iranian soil, even though the two countries have been fighting a proxy war since the 1980s. Not even the Iranian government itself has claimed that the attack reached its soil, stating that it was a “serious violation.” of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs diplomatic representations around the world.

If so, what explains that, when it was revealed that Bolsonaro visited the Hungarian embassy, ​​so many people, including highly relevant figures in the Brazilian media, repeated the myth that an “embassy is a foreign territory” or a “sovereign territory” of another country? This myth was disseminated and perpetuated by Hollywood, in its role of dramatizing events or making everything more epic, but it is not true and should not be spread by people who work in this field.

There’s no problem if a person doesn’t know this, but repeating misinformation when you’re in the position of a journalist, commentator or teacher is a disaster. What diplomatic missions, such as embassies and consulates, enjoy is inviolability. In other words, they cannot be violated by authorities from another country without the consent of the head of the mission. This is regulated by the aforementioned Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which establishes reciprocal inviolability, in articles 22, 24, 27, 29 and 30.

This is done to protect the States, first and foremost. Imagine the reader that a police operation confiscates computers from a US representation. Such computers may contain sensitive information, which should not be accessed by those authorities, or even by authorities in a third country. A corrupt agent could sell a copy of this information to another state, such as China. And these are just hypothetical examples.

In recent history, we have had cases in which people sought refuge in foreign offices, such as Bolivian senator Roger Pinto Molina at the Brazilian embassy in that country, or Australian activist and journalist Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. An arrest warrant against these people can only be executed with the consent of the head of the mission, who has the right not to authorize the entry of police forces or not to hand over the individual.

Inviolability is not sovereignty

In other words, that person is beyond the reach of a conventional police operation, but that does not mean that they are in foreign territory. There is no sovereignty involved. And again, this was designed to protect states themselves, not individuals. It should be noted that the topic here is the myth of “embassy is foreign territory”, not what Bolsonaro did or didn’t do at the Hungarian embassy, ​​his relations with the Orbán government, the cases against him and the fact that his passport is retained.

The same inviolability that we mentioned also extends to diplomatic agents, their private residences and their diplomatic luggage, which may contain State correspondence. Inviolability is not absolute and may be suspended in cases of immediate emergency or public emergency. For example, a uniformed military firefighter can enter a diplomatic representation if a fire is breaking out at that moment, or a police officer can come to a person asking for help.

Another myth is that, within a diplomatic representation, the law of the other country applies. No, inside a foreign embassy in Brazil, Brazilian law is in force, just as inside the Brazilian embassy in Yerevan, Armenian law is in force, and so on. The famous diplomatic immunity only applies to accredited foreign diplomats. To give a visual example, the reader can, for example, check out photos of various events at the Iranian embassy in Brasilia.

In these photos, you will see women with their hair uncovered, as covering their hair is not something provided for by Brazilian law, although, recently and unfortunately, two women were killed by the Iranian customs police for not complying with the law of covering their hair and the back of their necks. . Some reader may say that, due to inviolability, an embassy or consulate would be a “foreign territory in practice”. No, not even in “practice” can this association be made.

Let’s look at some examples. If a diplomatic representation were in fact foreign territory, in practice, a visa would be required to enter the US consulate or embassy, ​​which does not exist. A local official might have to submit your snack to health inspections, common with border foods. Any object could be subject to customs inspection. Well, the accredited country could even install a missile battery in “its territory” and Brazil would not be able to say anything.

The Soviets would not need to install missiles in Cuba in 1962; they could use their vast embassy territory in Washington as a base. Of course, this is an intentionally exaggerated example, and it is not even necessary to go into details, such as the fact that many representations are in rented properties. The facts are that no one will say that Israel attacked Iranian soil and that diplomatic representations are “foreign territory” only in Hollywood fiction, a myth that should stay out of the news.

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Bolsonaro Hungarian embassy Israeli airstrike Iran

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