“These repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty by groups opposed to the Iraqi government must stop,” thundered Mike Pompeo, the head of U.S. diplomacy.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “outraged”, on Sunday 12 January, by new rocket attacks against an Iraqi air base north of Baghdad housing US soldiers, at a time when Iran was showing signs of appeasement.
“Indignant at reports of a new rocket attack on an Iraqi air base,” the head of U.S. diplomacy tweeted. “These repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty by groups opposed to the Iraqi government must stop,” he added. The origin of the eight rockets was not specified.
There were no American casualties, according to Iraqi military sources, but four Iraqis were injured.
Iran has admitted to shooting down the Ukrainian plane
This attack comes at a time when a certain de-escalation has been observed between Iran and the United States after ten days of crisis, marked by attacks and the crash of a Ukrainian civilian plane shot down “mistakenly” by the Iranian armed forces.
After its initial denials, Iran admitted on Saturday that its armed forces shot down the plane of Ukraine International Airlines with a missile on 8 January, killing 176 people, mostly Iranians and Canadians, and provoking a wave of outrage in the country. Tehran stressed that at the time of the shooting, its defence was on the alert for a possible “total conflict” with the United States.
The chronic tension between these two enemy countries reached an abrupt climax on 3 January with the elimination of an important Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad by an American strike, followed on 8 January by Iranian missile reprisals against Iraqi bases hosting American military personnel. A few hours later, the Ukrainian plane was shot down after taking off from Tehran.
“The only solution to the crisis lies in de-escalation”.
In this hypertensive climate, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani, whose country is an ally of the United States but maintains good relations with Iran, met in Tehran with President Hassan Rohani and Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei. “We agreed […] that the only solution to [the] crisis is through de-escalation and dialogue,” the emir said.
The situation requires “more than ever a strengthening of inter-state relations” in the region, Ayatollah Khamenei said.
Hassan Rohani also met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country offered its good offices to try to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia, a rival of Tehran and a great ally of the United States, closer together.
In Washington, the head of the Pentagon, Mark Esper, assured that Donald Trump was always ready to discuss with Iran ‘without preconditions. But, true to his habit of confusing the cards, Trump almost at the same time issued a new warning “to the leaders of Iran”. “DO NOT KILL YOUR DEMONSTRATORS,” he wrote on Twitter. “The world is watching. More importantly, the United States is watching. »
The day before, he had warned Tehran against “another massacre of peaceful demonstrators,” in reference to the protest movement violently repressed in Iran in November 2019.
The Ukrainian plane tragedy is the worst disaster for Iranian civil aviation since 1988 and the Iran Air’s Airbus tragedy (290 dead) which the United States claims to have mistakenly shot down over the Gulf.
“Apologize, Resign,” the reformist daily Etemad headlined on Sunday, after Iran admitted its mistake. “Unforgivable,” the government newspaper “Iran” admitted.
On Sunday, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian ideological army, Major General Hossein Salami, testified before Parliament about this tragedy and the January 8 strikes. He spoke about the strikes in sharp contrast to previous martial statements. The objective was not “to kill enemy soldiers,” he said.