Saudi condemns Iran for violating Iraq sovereignty

Saudi condemns Iran for violating Iraq sovereignty
Saudi condemns Iran for violating Iraq sovereignty

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - Protesters stage a sit-in at Tahrir Square in Baghdad on Wednesday. Associated Press

Saudi Arabia condemned on Thursday “Iranian violations of Iraqi sovereignty” after Iran fired missiles at Iraq bases where US troops are deployed in retaliation for the killing of a top commander.

“The kingdom denounces and condemns the Iranian violations of Iraqi sovereignty,” said a statement carried by the official SPA news agency following Wednesday’s retaliatory strikes by Iran.

The Iranian missiles targeted two Iraqi bases, including the sprawling Ain Al Asad, which houses American and other foreign troops deployed in a US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the Daesh group.

On Thursday Saudi Arabia called anew on all parties to observe restraint and avoid an escalation “in order to preserve the stability of Iraq and the region.”

The attack has been denounced by the Iraqi prime minister, the foreign ministry and Iraqi President Barham Saleh as a violation of the country’s sovereignty.

Saleh also said he rejected attempts to turn Iraq into a “battlefield for warring sides.”

Meanwhile, Iran on Thursday spurned the US President Donald ’s call for a new nuclear pact and its commanders threatened more attacks as the Middle East remained on edge.

Concern the war-scarred region was primed for a wider conflict eased after Trump refrained from ordering more military action and Iran’s foreign minister diplomat said missile strikes “concluded” Tehran’s response.

But each side’s next move in their protracted shadow war was uncertain. Iranian generals resumed their barrage of warnings to Washington and Trump said new sanctions were being imposed.

Trump had told Americans in an address on Wednesday: “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it.”

In comments on Thursday, Trump said the US Treasury would make an announcement about new sanctions on Iran.

The US president also said he had suspicions about Wednesday’s crash of a Ukrainian Boeing 737 in Iran, after the plane came down shortly after Iran launched its missile strikes.

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards also issued new threats to Washington, with one senior commander warning of “harsher revenge soon” and another saying Wednesday’s missile strikes were only the start of a series of attacks across the region.

The new head of the Quds Force, which handles Iran’s foreign military operations, said he would follow the course pursued by his slain predecessor Soleimani.

“We will continue in this luminous path with power,” Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani said.

Separately, the head of the Nato alliance said on Thursday that Nato will consider an increased role in the Middle East, particularly in training missions Trump demanded it do more.

Responding to a call from the US leader for the transatlantic alliance to “become much more involved” in the troubled region, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this did not have to mean large deployments of combat troops.

He pointed to training missions run by the alliance in Afghanistan and Iraq — where some 500 Nato forces are deployed to train local troops.

“I strongly believe that the best way we can fight international terrorism is not always by deploying NATO troops in big combat operations,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

“The best way is to enable local forces to fight terrorism themselves, and that is exactly what we do in Afghanistan, what we do in Iraq, and of course we can look into if we can do more of that kind of activity.”

In yet another development the US House on Thursday was due to vote on a non-binding measure aimed at Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Thursday that the war powers resolution, which does not require Trump’s signature, nonetheless “has real teeth” because it is “a statement of the Congress of the United States. I will not have that statement be diminished by whether the president will veto it or not.’’

Also on Thursday Egyptian national carrier Egyptair will resume flights to Baghdad on Saturday after assessing the security situation, the airline on Twitter.

Egyptair had suspended flights for three days on Wednesday, citing instability in the Iraqi capital.

Agencies

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