The World Council of Churches (WCC) is deeply concerned by the possible consequences for the Middle East region of today’s US air strike that killed general Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most prominent military commander, at Baghdad airport in Iraq. The attack is a major escalation in the confrontation between the US and Iran.
“General Soleimani was no innocent victim of war, having been the architect and promoter of armed violence in many parts of the region, but this attack and anticipated reactions to it threaten even wider and more disastrous conflict in the region,” observed WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “As destabilizing as general Soleimani’s activities have been, the consequences for the people of the region of more intensive conflict are incalculable.”
Tveit appealed for all sides to “exercise maximum restraint, to refrain from further escalation, and to give priority to the welfare of all people of the region, and their right to peace and stability after so many years of violence and bloodshed.”
National Council of Churches Urges De-escalation of Hostilities Between US and Iran
The US National Council of Churches stated on January 3 –
The assassination of General Qassem Soleimani and the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and six others on Thursday, January 2, by the United States, will undoubtedly provoke more attacks that threaten to further destabilize the entire region. This follows other hostile acts and now dramatically escalates tension between Iran and the United States.
The National Council of Churches is deeply concerned about these hostile acts and urges Iranian and US leadership to immediately deescalate tensions and return to the negotiating table. We view this latest crisis as a consequence of President Trump’s regrettable decision to withdraw from the JCPOA (the “Iran Nuclear Deal”). We fear where this lust for war and revenge may lead, as the consequences for those living in this part of the world, and even in other parts of the world, cannot be foreseen. Among the first victims of an open conflict will be international aid workers in Iraq and Syria, as well as the children, poor, and most vulnerable persons for whom they care.
¨No good can result from war between the United States and Iran,̈ said Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the NCC. ¨We have consistently worked for peace and diplomacy and we will redouble our collective efforts as followers of Christ to ensure we reject the path of death and heartache that results from war.¨
“The National Council of Churches invites our religious partners and members of our communions to pray for peace,” said Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, Chair of the NCC’s Governing Board. “In times like this when the actions of our government threaten to undo the peace we long for, we hope that by lifting up our voices we can help maintain the balances in international relationships that prevent wars from ever starting.”
“We reassert our call to the US government to step back from further provocations, and ultimately from the precipice of war, and draw upon diplomats and regional partners to find ways to build peace and prosperity in this troubled region. We call for respect for the territorial integrity of Iraq and the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from that country. We reaffirm our commitment to join with our ecumenical partners in praying and working for peace and understanding in the days ahead.”