UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday warned that “geopolitical tensions are at their highest level this century” and called on world leaders to stop escalating tensions, exercise maximum restraint and re-start dialogue.
Without naming any countries, Guterres said: “This cauldron of tensions is leading more and more countries to take unpredicted decisions with unpredictable consequences and a profound risk of miscalculation.”
His warning came after the U.S. killed Iran’s most prominent general Qassem Soleimani on Friday, deepening a crisis that has heightened fears of a major Middle East conflagration.
Similarly, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Monday told the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Matthew Tueller, that both countries should work together on implementing an Iraqi parliamentary resolution on the withdrawal of foreign troops.
“The prime minister stressed the importance of mutual cooperation on implementing the withdrawal of foreign troops, in line with the Iraqi parliament’s resolution, and to set relations with the U.S. on a proper foundation,” his office said in a statement.
“He stressed how dangerous the situation is right now and its potential consequences, adding that Iraq is doing everything it can to prevent the descent into open war.”
Iraq’s parliament called on Sunday for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave as a backlash grows against the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.
Deepening a crisis that has heightened fears of a major Middle East conflagration, Iran said it was taking another step back from commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers.
Soleimani, was killed on Friday in a U.S. drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport, an attack that carried U.S.-Iranian hostilities into uncharted waters.
An Iranian government minister denounced Trump as a “terrorist in a suit” after the U.S. president sent a series of Twitter posts on Saturday threatening to hit 52 Iranian sites.
The target site including important to Iranian culture, if Tehran attacks Americans or U.S. assets to avenge Soleimani’s death.
Democratic critics of the Republican president have said Trump was reckless in authorising the strike, and some said his comments about targeting cultural sites amounted to threats to commit war crimes.
Trump also threatened sanctions against Iraq and said that if U.S. troops were required to leave the country, Iraq’s government would have to pay Washington for the cost of a “very extraordinarily expensive” air base there.
He said if Iraq asked U.S. forces to leave on an unfriendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.
“It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to all foreign troop presence, reflecting the fears of many in Iraq that Friday’s strike could engulf them in another war between two bigger powers long at odds in Iraq and across the region.
Iran and the U.S. have been competing for clout in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.