Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated significantly after a top Iranian military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, was killed early Friday in a US airstrike in Iraq. General Soleimani was head of the Quds Force, tasked with operating beyond Iran’s borders.
Speaking about the major escalation in tensions between the US and Iran, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson said, “it’s very sad and heartbreaking that very shortly into the New Year which we began with such enthusiasm; such hopefulness for peace and tranquility, we have to greet and receive news of violence and war in other parts of the world.”
He told Vatican News’ Amadeo Lomonaco that for Christians, “we know that our Saviour and our leader was born into such situations.”
He went on to say that, “while we speak peace, there are still forces in the world… that will speak violence to us, and it is only when we hold on to the hand of the Lord himself, the Prince of Peace that we are able to overcome all of these obstacles.”
Asked about Pope Francis January 1st message marking the World Day of Peace, Cardinal Turkson recalled that the Pope invites people to look at peace as a journey. “Peace requires a lot of patience,” said the Cardinal. He went on to say that it also requires “a lot of trials and a lot of struggles”. But he added these struggles are rooted in the great virtue of hope, “which is rooted in the fact that the reality of peace is being introduced into the world by Jesus, the Prince of Peace.”
The overnight attack, which also killed top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, was ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said the strike aimed to disrupt an “imminent attack” that would have put Americans in the Middle East in danger. This attack followed a sharp increase in longrunning U.S.-Iranian hostilities. Just last week pro-Iranian militiamen attacked the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Washington also blamed Tehran for earlier raids on Gulf shipping.
The U.S. embassy in Baghdad advised all American citizens to leave Iraq immediately. U.S. allies in Europe, including Britain, France, and Germany, voiced concerns about an escalation in tension with British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Friday, urging all parties to de-escalate. “Further conflict is in none of our interests,” he said.
Reacting to the airstrike, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “severe revenge awaits the criminals” behind the attack.