United Call for De-escalation of Iran US Tensions from South Asia, China
While Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a message on Friday calling for revenge for the killing of Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack, there was a unified call for de-escalation in the countries in the Asia Pacific particularly South Asia and China who would be most impacted by outbreak of an open war.
The region is dependent on energy resources from West Asia while millions of migrants from the region are working in countries as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait.
Khamanei in his message said, “Shahid (martyr) Soleimani is the international face of the resistance and all who have a heart-felt connection to the resistance seek his blood revenge. All friends – and indeed all enemies – should know that the path of jihad and resistance continues with increased motivation and certain victory awaits the mujahideen on this blessed path”.
The mild mannered and pragmatic Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also called for evenge on the ‘criminal’ US for assassinating Gen. Soleimani.
Regional countries hand are hoping that the escalation between Iran and the US will be controlled.
Voicing concerns of the region as a whole, India has called for restraint after the killing of the Iranian Quds Force commander General Soleimani in an American drone attack.
“We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US. The increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace, stability and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
India has been balancing relations between Iran and the US which has been rendered difficult after the sanctions were imposed by the Trump Administration on Iran in May 2018 pulling out of the nuclear deal.
India had some respite in the form of a waiver but only for the port of Chabahar which has now been reiterated through a letter thus facilitating the movement and deployment of resources for improvement of existing facilities and operation of the same.
This apart India has been adhering to the US ban on import of oil much to the chagrin of the Iranians but traditional contact has been maintained with Tehran with the Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishanker having visited Iran for the Joint Commission meeting only recently. Escalation however will have serious consequences for India with 8 million Indian migrant workers in the Gulf and 70 % of the oil and gas coming from this belt.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement saying that the “Afghan government reassures the Afghan people and the neighboring countries that Afghanistan’s territory will not be used against any other nation in the region,” after having spoken to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that he had a telephone call with Ghani, “Spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Donald Trump’s decision to kill Qassem Soleimani to protect American lives at stake. The Iranian regime’s actions are a source of instability throughout the region. The US will protect its people and its interests.” Pompeo said.
Ghani tweeted: “The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan closely monitors the situations in the region and seeks bilateral and multilateral ties with all countries in the region and the world” and “The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is gravely concerned about a possible increase in violence in the region. In my telephone conversation with the US Secretary of State, I once again emphasized that Afghan soil must not be used against a third country or in regional conflicts.” Ghani tweeted.
Afghanistan is concerned that Iran’s retaliatory action could imply a strike on the US bases in the country and may embroil Kabul in an unavoidable conflict at a time when peace with talks with the Taliban are in an advanced stage.
Importantly US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa who in turn emphasised ‘need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement’ following the killing of Qasem Soleimani.
“Pakistan’s Chief of Staff General Bajwa and I spoke today [Friday] about US defensive action to kill Qasem Soleimani,” shared Pompeo on Twitter, adding the “Iran regime’s actions in the region are destabilising and our resolve in protecting American interests, personnel, facilities, and partners will not waver”.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson of General Bajwa confirmed the conversation and tweeted. “COAS received telephone call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Regional situation including possible implications of recent escalation in Middle East was discussed,” army’s media wing said in a tweet. “COAS emphasised need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement by all concerned to de-escalate the situation in broader interest of peace and stability,” it said in another tweet. “COAS also reiterated the need for maintaining focus on success of Afghan Peace Process.”
Pakistan has highlighted the Afghan talks in the hope that the US keen to work out a deal will not be distracted with the focus shifting to Iraq and contesting Iran.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said at the daily briefing: “we attach high importance to the recent incidents. China has always opposed the use of forces in the international relations, and advocates that all parties should practically abide by the purpose and principle of UN Charter and basic norm of international relations.” “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq should be respected, and the peace and stability in the Middle East and Gulf area should be maintained,” he added. “We urge all the relevant parties, especially the US, to exercise restraint and prevent the escalation of the tensions.”