Nations Urge Restraint After Soleimani Strike

  • The French and Russian presidents agreed to maintain close communication in the coming days and called on all parties to exercise restraint.
  • Qatar's foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Suleimani's death in a US attack has escalated tensions in Iraq.
  • The Lebanese Foreign Ministry called the attack a "dangerous escalation" against Iran.

Many countries have issued statements urging calm and restraint among all parties, since the U.S. launched a rocket attack on Baghdad International Airport early Friday, killing Qasem Soleimani. The Iranian general was the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. At least eight other people have died in this and other subsequent American airstrikes.

Qasem Soleimani was an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and since 1998 commander of its Quds Force—a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations. Soleimani was killed in a targeted U.S. airstrike on 3 January 2020 in Baghdad, Iraq.

The French presidential palace issued a press statement, saying that President Emmanuel Macron had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the same day to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The French and Russian presidents agreed to maintain close communication in the coming days and called on all parties to exercise restraint. Macron also reiterated to Putin that France respects Iraq’s sovereignty and security, and is committed to maintaining regional stability.

Macron and Erdogan expressed common concern over the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, and believed that it was necessary to avoid aggravating the dangerous situation. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Suleimanni’s armed forces pose an offensive threat. After his death, Britain called on all parties to downgrade the conflict, saying “further conflict is not in our interests.”

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, President Bashar al-Assad sent a message of condolences to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Hassan Rouhani regarding the death of Suleimani in the US military attack. Assad said that he will continue to resist the destructiveness of the United States in the region. Assad also said the attack showed that the United States “continues to support terrorism, spread chaos, and instability.”

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that Syria expressed “complete sympathy and solidarity” with Iraq and Iran, strongly condemning the United States for launching an attack, and that the United States responsible for the unstable situation in Iraq. The US policy aims to create tension and foster conflict in the countries of the region, the ministry stated. Further, it constitutes a dangerous escalation of the regional situation.

The Quds Force is a unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) directed to carry out unconventional warfare and intelligence activities and responsible for extraterritorial operations.

Qatar’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Suleimani’s death in a US attack has escalated tensions in Iraq and could even lead to unimaginable results. The statement calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint, to prevent the Middle East from falling into a cycle of violence, and calls on the international community to fulfill its responsibility to the Middle East.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the Lebanese side has closely followed the attacks in Baghdad, and condemned the assassinations against Suleimani and others. The statement stressed that the attack was a “dangerous escalation” against Iran, and would increase regional tensions. Lebanon advocates dialogue among the parties rather than seeking violence and force. In addition, the U.S. embassy in Lebanon reminded U.S. citizens in Lebanon that, in view of the current high tensions in Iraq and the region, they should remain vigilant, particularly in places westerners frequent, and pay close attention to the U.S. embassy website and media reports.

The U.S. Department of Defense said that President Trump ordered the attack on Suleimani to deter Iran and its future plans. Following the attack, the U.S. embassy in Iraq announced its closure and suspended consular services, while urging all U.S. citizens to leave Iraq immediately.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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