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AFP
September 25, 2020

Iran tensions: Arab leaders voice alarm at UN

World

AFP
September 25, 2020

Arab leaders voiced fears on Thursday before the United Nations of new conflict in the region as tensions soar between Iran and the United States.

The annual extravaganza of international diplomacy at the UN General Assembly has been turned into a virtual affair this year, with leaders sending in recorded speeches due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Two days after US President Donald Trump ramped up pressure on Iran in a widely contested move, the leaders of Iraq and Saudi Arabia voiced concerns about the region. “We do not want Iraq to become a sort of playground for other forces that will kill each other on our territory,” President Barham Saleh said in his address.

“We have witnessed enough wars and enough attacks on our sovereignty,” he said. Iraq has attempted a delicate balancing act between neighboring Iran, which shares the faith of the majority in its Arab neighbour, and the United States, which invaded and toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

President Donald Trump in January ordered a drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iran’s most prominent general, Qasem Soleimani, as well as an Iraqi paramilitary leader, raising calls in Baghdad for the expulsion of US forces. Trump rejected the calls for a withdrawal but this month ordered a sharp cutback of troops in Iraq as part of his election promise to stop “endless” wars. Saleh hinted at frustration in Iraq with “anarchic” groups, whose rocket fire on US forces had prompted the drone strike.