Updated: January 3, 2020 9:36:03 pm
India on Friday urged restraint and de-escalation following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad Friday, sending tensions soaring in the region. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said peace and security in the region was of utmost importance to India
“We’ve noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US. Increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It’s vital that the situation doesn’t escalate. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so,” the MEA said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has cautioned that the world cannot afford another war in the Gulf. Voicing deep concern over escalation of tensions in the Gulf, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq said, “The Secretary-General has consistently advocated for de-escalation in the Gulf. He is deeply concerned with the recent escalation.” The UN chief said this is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint. “The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf,” Guterres said.
Iran has threatened retaliation after the US airstrike, authorised by President Donald Trump, killed Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East. The Pentagon, in a statement, said that the Iranian general was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.
Trump has justified the attack, saying General Qassem Soleimani had killed and wounded thousands of Americans over a period of time and was plotting to kill many more.
The high-profile assassination is likely to be a massive blow to Iran, which has been locked in a long conflict with the United States. The conflict escalated sharply last week, with the storming of the US embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen following a US air raid on the Kataib Hezbollah militia, founded by Muhandis.
China, Russia and France, all permanent members of the UN Security Council, have taken a dim view of the US airstrike, and Lebanon has condemned the killing of Soleimani. Russia likewise characterized the deadly US strike as “fraught with serious consequences.”
A Foreign Ministry statement warned that “such actions don’t help resolve complicated problems in the Middle East, but instead lead to a new round of escalating tensions.” China described itself as “highly concerned.” “Peace in the Middle East and the Gulf region should be preserved,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
However, Britain and Germany have voiced an understanding for the US position. “We have always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani. Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests,” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said.
“We are at a dangerous point of escalation. It is now important through prudence and restraint to contribute to de-escalation,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer. “We, too, view Iran’s activities in the region with great concern,” she said, but warned that any conflicts can only be resolved through “diplomatic paths”.
Iranian Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the assassination of Soleimani would double the motivation of the resistance against the United States and Israel. “With him gone, God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped, but severe revenge awaits the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood and other martyrs’ in last night’s incident,” Khamenei said.
(Inputs from agencies)
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