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Ireland calls for 'maximum restraint' following US assassination of Iranian general

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said any Irish person in Iraq should ‘leave immediately’.

The remains of the vehicle outside Baghdad airport following the US airstrike.
The remains of the vehicle outside Baghdad airport following the US airstrike.
Image: DPA/PA Images

Updated Jan 4th 2020, 4:50 PM

THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs has called for ‘maximum restraint’ in the Middle East following the US airstrike in Iraq that killed a top Iranian general.

A mourning procession for Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis took place in Baghdad this morning with Iraq’s prime minister in attendance. 

Iran has already promised ’severe revenge’ for the drone strike that killed Soleimani while he was travelling in a convoy near Baghdad airport yesterday morning.

In a statement last night, which didn’t mention the US or Iran specifically, the EU’s High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell urged “maximum restraint” in the region.

“The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped before it spirals out of control. The EU calls on all the actors involved and on those partners who can have an influence to exercise maximum restraint and show responsibility in this crucial moment,” Borrell’s statement said. 

In a tweet this morning, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said that it “fully supports EU High Representative Borrell’s call for all parties involved to show maximum restraint”. 

The airstrike that killed Soleimani took place two days after a non-fatal attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad and almost a week after further US airstrikes that killed 25 fighters from an Iran-backed militia in Iraq.

The Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Thursday condemning the attack on the US Embassy in Iraq and emphasising the importance of diplomats to be able to work safely.  

A number of opposition politicians have criticised the government’s response to the ongoing situation with Ruth Coppinger TD accusing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney of “remaining silent on Trump’s aggression towards Iran which threatens to escalate conflict.”

“Why won’t Leo Varadkar condemn that action? Will he keep Shannon Airport open for military aircraft engaged in conflict?,” Coppinger tweeted. 

Condemnation

Labour leader Brendan Howlin this afternoon directly condemned the assassination of Soleimani by the US. 

“The US air strike on the motor convoy carrying Soleimani and al-Muhandis killed ten people,” Howlin said. 

The US had no UN mandate for this aggressive action, which tramples over international law and may lead to a dangerous escalation of violence in the Middle East, with wide-ranging humanitarian consequences.

“Since the attack, I have waited to hear the US explanation, to see if they can provide evidence of their claim of an imminent attack on US citizens. Instead, US Vice-President Mike Pence has repeated unsubstantiated and improbable claims linking Soleimani, a Shia leader, to the 9/11 attacks on New York carried out by Sunni militants.”

In a series of tweets last night, the US vice president shared a conspiracy theory claiming that Soleimani had helped with the travel of hijackers who carried out the 2001 terror attacks.

Sinn Féin has also condemned the US action in killing Soleimani and has called on the Irish government to do likewise. 

“This harebrained and unlawful use of military force to murder Iranian and Iraqi military officials will have a major destabilising effect on the situation in the Middle East, and the US knows this,” Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan said this afternoon. 

The Irish government must immediately join the global condemnation of this illegal and reckless US action.

“As the US government announces that it is sending more troops to Iraq and tensions continue to rise, the Irish government need to urgently put an end to the use of Shannon Airport by the US military,” he added. 

Travel advice

The Department of Foreign Affairs also updated its travel advice for both Iraq and Iran yesterday

In the case of Iraq, the advice is against all travel to the country “because of the extremely dangerous security situation and very high threat of terrorist attacks”.

“If you’re currently in Iraq, we advise you to leave immediately,” the advice adds. 

In the case of Iran, Irish citizens are not advised against travelling to the country but are told to “exercise a high degree of caution” .

The department also urges Irish citizens to be aware of the three-day mourning period currently in place in Iran following the killing of Soleimani.

“We recommend that you remain vigilant and avoid all demonstrations and protests taking place in cities across Iran and refrain from recording or photographing them,” the advice states.

 

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Rónán Duffy

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