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.


‘We want to breathe, too’: Solidarity from Iraq

A mask-clad young Iraqi woman speaks to another during an anti-government demonstration in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, despite the ongoing threat of the novel coronavirus. (AFP)
Updated 07 June 2020

‘We want to breathe, too’: Solidarity from Iraq

  • Violence left more than 550 people dead, but virtually no one has been held accountable — mirroring a lack of accountability over deaths at the hands of security forces in the US, Iraqis say

BAGHDAD: Seventeen years after US troops invaded their country and eight months since protests engulfed their cities, Iraqis are sending solidarity, warnings and advice to demonstrators across America.
Whether in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square or on Twitter, Iraqis are closely watching the unprecedented street protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis as a police officer knelt on his neck.
“I think what the Americans are doing is brave and they should be angry, but rioting is not the solution,” said Yassin Alaa, a scrawny 20-year-old camped out in Tahrir.
Only a few dozen Iraqis remain in tents in the capital’s main protest square, which just months ago saw security forces fire tear gas and live bullets at demonstrators, who shot back with rocks or occasionally Molotov cocktails.
Violence left more than 550 people dead, but virtually no one has been held accountable — mirroring a lack of accountability over deaths at the hands of security forces in the US, Iraqis say. Now, they want to share their lessons learned.
“Don’t set anything on fire. Stay away from that, because the police will treat you with force right from the beginning and might react unpredictably,” Alaa told AFP.
And most importantly, he insisted, stick together. “If blacks and whites were united and they threw racism away, the system can never stop them,” he said.
Across their country, Iraqis spotted parallels between the roots of America’s protests and their own society.
“In the US it’s a race war, while here it’s a war of politics and religion,” said Haider Kareem, 31, who protested often in Tahrir and whose family lives in the US.
“But the one thing we have in common is the injustice we both suffer from,” he told AFP.
Iraq has its own history of racism, particularly against a minority of Afro-Iraqis in the south who trace their roots back to East Africa.
In 2013, leading Afro-Iraqi figure Jalal Thiyab was gunned down in the oil-rich city of Basra — but discrimination against the community is otherwise mostly nonviolent.
“Our racism is different than America’s racism,” said Ali Essam, a 34-year-old Afro-Iraqi who directed a wildly popular play about Iraq’s protests last year.
“Here, we joke about dark skin but in America, being dark makes people think you’re a threat,” he told AFP.
Solidarity is spreading online, too, with Iraqis tweaking their own protest chants and slogans to fit the US.
In one video, an elderly Iraqi is seen reciting a “hosa” or rhythmic chant, used to rally people into the streets last year and now adapted to an American context.
“This is a vow, this a vow! Texas won’t be quiet now,” he bellowed, before advising Americans to keep their rallies independent of foreign interference — mimicking a US government warning to Iraqis last year. Others shared the hashtag “America Revolts.”
Another Arabic hashtag going viral in Iraq translates as “We want to breathe, too,” referring to Floyd’s last words.
Not all the comparisons have been uplifting, however.
The governor of Minnesota, the state in which Minneapolis is located, said the US street violence “was reminiscent of Mogadishu or Baghdad.”
And the troops briefly deployed by US President Donald Trump to quell unrest in Washington were from the 82nd Airborne — which had just returned from duty in Iraq.
“Trump is using the American army against the American people,” said Democrat presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden.
Iraqis have fought back online, tweeting “Stop associating Baghdad with turmoil,” in response to comparisons with their homeland.
Others have used biting sarcasm.
In response to videos of crowds breaking into shops across US cities, Iraqis have dug up an infamous quote by ex-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
“Lawlessness and looting is a natural consequence of the transition from dictatorship to a free country,” he said in response to a journalist’s question on widespread looting and chaos in Baghdad following the 2003 US-led invasion.