U.S. and Iran singing war songs
(Reuters/NAN) Saudi Arabia said that the kingdom did not want to see further escalation of tensions in the region at a “very dangerous moment”, following Friday’s killing by a U.S. drone of Iran’s military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said this at a news conference in Riyadh on Monday.
“We are very keen that the situation in the region doesn’t escalate any further.
“It’s certainly a very dangerous moment and we have to be conscious of the risks and dangers not just to the region but to wider global security.
“We hope that all actors take all the steps necessary to prevent any further escalation and any provocation,” bin Farhan said.
Similarly, Iran’s supreme leader wept in grief with hundreds of thousands of mourners thronging Tehran’s streets on Monday for the funeral of Soleimani.
As the coffins of Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who also died in Friday’s attack in Baghdad, were passed over the heads of mourners, Soleimani’s successor vowed to expel U.S. forces from the region in revenge.
The killing of Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s drive to extend its influence across the Middle East, has stoked concern around the globe that a broader regional conflict could erupt.
Trump has listed 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, that could be hit if Iran retaliates with attacks on Americans or U.S. assets.
General Esmail Ghaani, the new commander of the Quds Force, promised to “continue martyr Soleimani’s cause as firmly as before with the help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to rid the region of America”.
“God the Almighty has promised to take martyr Soleimani’s revenge. Certainly, actions will be taken,’’ Ghaani, the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards charged with overseas operations, said.
Other political and military leaders have made similar, unspecific threats.
Iran, which lies at the mouth of the key Gulf oil shipping route, has a range of proxy forces in the region through which it could act.
The crowd in Tehran, which state media said numbered in the millions, recalled the masses that gathered in 1989 for the funeral of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Soleimani was a national hero to many – even those who do not consider themselves supporters of Iran’s clerical rulers.
Iran’s demand that U.S. forces quit the region gained traction on Sunday when Iraq’s parliament backed the prime minister’s recommendation for foreign troops to be ordered out.
Iraq’s rival Shi’ite leaders, including ones opposed to Iranian influence, have united since Friday’s attack to call for the expulsion of U.S. troops, who number about 5,000, most of them advisers.
Soleimani, widely seen as Iran’s second most powerful figure behind Khamenei, built a network of proxy forces to create a crescent of influence stretching from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran.
Allies also include Palestinian and Yemeni groups.
Washington, however, blames Soleimani for attacks on U.S. forces and their allies.
Prayers at Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran, which was later due to move to his southern home city of Kerman, were led by Khamenei, who wept as he spoke.
His daughter Zeinab Soleimani told mourners the U.S. would face a “dark day” for her father’s death.
Britain said Iran’s move was “extremely concerning” and Germany said it would still work to save the pact.
Democratic critics of the Republican president have said that Trump was reckless in authorising the strike while Republicans in the U.S. Congress have generally backed his move.
Oil prices climbed above 70 dollars a barrel on concerns about an escalation.