Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020./AP
Global powers warned Friday that the world has become a more dangerous place and urged restraint after the killing of Iran’s top general by the U.S.
However, Britain and Germany appeared to support the U.S suggesting that Iran shared blame for provoking the targeted killing that dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the Mideast.
China, Russia and France, all permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, took a dim view of the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport early Friday that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The White House said in a tweet that Soleimani, who led the elite Quds Force responsible for Iran’s foreign campaigns, “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
“We are waking up in a more dangerous world. Military escalation is always dangerous,” France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin said. “When such actions, such operations, take place, we see that escalation is underway.”
Russia likewise characterized the deadly U.S. 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.”
“Peace in the Middle East and the Gulf region should be preserved,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. “We urge all parties concerned, especially the United States, to maintain calm and restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions.”
But while echoing the concerns of other Security Council members about spiraling tensions, Britain and Germany broke ranks, voicing qualified understanding for the U.S. position.
German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer described the U.S. strike as “a reaction to a whole series of military provocations for which Iran bears responsibility,” pointing to attacks on tankers and a Saudi oil facility, among other events.
The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said “we have always recognized the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani.”
Montchalin, the French minister, indicated urgent reconciliation efforts are being launched behind the scenes. French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister were reaching out to “all the actors in the region,” she said.
Iraq’s most powerful Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in a speech during Friday prayers that the country must brace for “very difficult times.”