UAE calls for de-escalation amid reactions to Iran missile attacks

An image grab from footage obtained from Iran Press news agency on Jan. 8, 2020 allegedly shows rockets launched from Iran against the US military base in Ein-Al Asad in Iraq the prevous night. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2020

UAE calls for de-escalation amid reactions to Iran missile attacks

  • Iraq’s President Barham Salih condemned Iran’s missile strikes on Iraqi bases, saying he feared “dangerous developments” in the region
  • US President Donald Trump also condemned the strike and tweeted “All is well! … Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!”

PARIS: The UAE’s foreign ministry called for a de-escalation in the region on Wednesday and said “rational dialogue” is the best solution after Iran carried out a missile attack on Iraqi bases housing US and other foreign troops.
The UAE’s foreign ministry also said that current developments will not affect the country, its citizens or residents, and that “all activities … in all sectors are proceeding normally.”
Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles in the early hours of Wednesday, officials in Washington and Tehran said.
Iran said it was responding to the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week, warning it would hit back even harder if Washington responded.
Iraq’s President Barham Salih condemned Iran’s missile strikes on Iraqi bases, saying he feared “dangerous developments” in the region.
“We denounce the Iranian missile bombing that hit military installations on Iraqi territory and renew our rejection of the repeated violation of state sovereignty and the transformation of Iraq into a battlefield for warring sides,” his office said in a statement.

Iraq’s foreign ministry said that Iran’s missile strikes on Iraqi bases was a “violation” of the country’s sovereignty and urged all concerned parties to show restraint in a statement.

The statement added that Iraq should not be allowed to turn into a battle field where scores are settled, and that Iran’s ambassador to Iraq would be summoned to discuss the matter. 
US President Donald Trump also condemned the strike and tweeted “All is well! … Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!” 

During a statement on Wednesday, Trump said Iran "appears to be standing down" and credited an early warning system “that worked very well" for the fact that no Americans or Iraqis were killed.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressed his country’s support for Iraq’s security and stability in a telephone call with Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi on Wednesday. During the call, he stressed the importance of cooperation to remove the threat of war from people in the region.
The United Nations mission in Iraq said the country should not be made to “pay the price” in the escalating conflict between Tehran and Washington.
The UN mission said in a statement that the latest strikes “again violate Iraqi sovereignty” and added: “We call for urgent restraint and a resumption of dialogue. Iraq should not pay the price for external rivalries.”

Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr said the crisis Iraq was experiencing is over following de-escalation rhetoric from both Iran and the US and called on militia groups not to carry out attacks.
A new strong Iraqi government able to protect the nation's sovereignty and independence should be formed in the next 15 days and usher in an early election, the populist cleric said in a statement, adding that Iraqis should still seek to expel foreign troops, however.
"I call on the Iraqi factions to be deliberate, patient, and not to start military actions, and to shut down the extremist voices of some rogue elements until all political, parliamentary and international methods have been exhausted," he said. 
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the UK’s parliament: “Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but should instead pursue urgent de-escalation.”
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned that another war in the Middle East would only benefit the Daesh group “and other terrorist groups.”

US President Donald Trump discussed the situation in the Middle East with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday and "emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East," the White House said.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said: “I condemn the Iranian missile attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq. NATO calls on Iran to refrain from further violence.”
A NATO official said none of its troops in Iraq had been hurt in the strikes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has described Soleimani as Iran’s “terrorist-in-chief,” made it clear Israel would strike back if attacked.
“Anyone who attacks us will receive a resounding blow,” he warned.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the attack was yet another example of “escalation and increased confrontation.”
“It is in no-one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further,” he added, warning that the crisis was hampering the fight against Islamic State.
EU foreign ministers will hold emergency talks on the Iran crisis Friday to discuss what the bloc can do to reduce tensions.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement: “The priority is more than ever for a de-escalation.
“France remains determined to work to ease tensions and is in contact with all the parties to encourage restraint and responsibility.”
In the wake of the Iranian attack, a number of airlines said they were avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf.
Its Russian counterpart, the Federal Air Transport Agency, recommended airlines avoid the air space over Iran, Iraq and the Arabian and Oman Gulfs.

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Libyan migrant centers are like concentration camps, pope says

Updated 2 min 48 sec ago

Libyan migrant centers are like concentration camps, pope says

  • The pope has in the past called for the camps to be closed
  • Thousands of refugees and migrants are held in about 20 official detention facilities in Libya
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Wednesday compared migrant detention centers in Libya to concentration camps, saying the world was being given only a diluted version of how hellish life really was for the people living there.
The pope, who has in the past called for the camps to be closed, made his comments in his homily during a Mass to mark the seventh anniversary of his trip to the Italian island of Lampedusa, landing place for many migrants making the perilous crossing from north Africa.
Departing from his prepared address, he recalled how an interpreter translating his conversation with a migrant seven years ago, gave him only a “distilled” version of what the migrant was actually saying.
“This is what is happening today in Libya. They give us the distilled version,” said Francis, who has made defense of migrants a major part of his seven-year-old papacy.
“Yes, there is a war (in Libya) and we know that is ugly but you cannot imagine the hell that people live there in those lagers of detention,” he said.
Lager is an abbreviation of the German word ‘Konzentrationslager’, or concentration camp.
“All these people had was hope as they were crossing the sea,” Francis said.
Thousands of refugees and migrants are held in about 20 official detention facilities in Libya, some controlled by armed groups, as well as an unknown number in squalid centers run by traffickers, according to the United Nations.
Human rights groups say abuses, including beating and forced labor, are rife in the detention centers.
Detainees in the Libyan camps include those who left on boats for Europe and were brought back by the European Union- backed Libyan Coast Guard, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says. (Reporting By Philip Pullella Editing by Gareth Jones)