Compilation of States’ Reactions to U.S. and Iranian Uses of Force in Iraq in January 2020

Earlier this month, the world’s attention was fixed on the U.S. and Iranian uses of force against each other inside Iraq. What did States across the globe have to say about these military activities? How did different States frame their reactions with (or without) reference to international law?

On Jan. 3, 2020 (local time), the United States launched a drone strike targeting the head of Iran’s Quds force, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, and killing both him and Iraqi military commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. In reaction, in the early hours of Jan. 8 2020 (local time), Iran launched several ballistic missiles directed from Iran on two air bases in Iraq (Al Asad and Irbil) housing US troops and other anti-ISIS coalition forces. Initially no casualties, but material damage were reported. (Over a week later, the public learned that 11 American servicemembers were injured in the attack.)

Whenever States resort to a significant use of force in their international relations, commentators asking about the relevance and regulatory power of international law are not far behind. As the many scholarly contributions assessing various legal aspects of the United States-Iran incident have set out, the military confrontation between these two adversaries in Iraq has put the UN Charter and its principles under strain. But how did the main actors on the international plane, States, view these events?

This article collects States’ reactions to the two military operations in an effort to provide an extensive overview.

States’ reactions not only allow one to trace and understand the political dimensions of the incident. They are also crucial to determine the status quo of the international law governing the use of force. In a decentralized international legal order, it is the States’ understandings that we consider to evaluate an incident’s impact on the legal landscape. States’ reactions may, if accompanied by legal opinions, contribute to the formation and interpretation of customary international law and the UN Charter – here especially on questions of self-defense. States’ reactions may also provide insights into the relevance and value of international law in these extreme situations.

We have collected responses by States and international organizations to the strikes in alphabetical order. Where possible, we relied on official statements distributed by governments through their official channels. In exceptional cases, we relied on secondary sources. Each statement is linked to the source.

Below is a compilation of excerpts of States’ reactions relevant to only the jus ad bellum dimensions of the two strikes. It does not contain States’ reactions relevant to other legal issues, for example the jus in bello/human rights dimensions of targeted killing, Iraq’s possible withdrawal of consent provided to the anti-ISIS coalition, or President Donald Trump’s threats to launch counterstrikes against Iranian cultural objects. Likewise, States’ reactions relevant to other events that are related to the strikes, e.g. the protests and attacks against the US embassy, and US strikes from 29 December 2019, are not considered here.

We do not claim that this is an exhaustive list. In fact, we invite readers to point us toward any additional State practice that we may have missed. Already, this collection builds on valuable contributions from the public international law community on twitter.

We attempt to report State reactions as objectively as possible. This article should not be understood as a legal analysis of the problems, but to provide background that may assist the reader to assess the incidents. The compilation should be read in conjunction with the many commentaries on the incident most notably Just Security (e.g. here, here, here, and here) EJIL:Talk! (e.g. here, here, here and here), and Lawfare (here and here).

Table of Contents

Introduction
I. Reactions to the US Strike Killing Soleimani
A. Directly affected States
B. Reactions indicating the legality of the US strike
1. States claiming the legality of the US strike
2. States using legal language
C. Reactions indicating the illegality of the US strike
1. States claiming the illegality of the US strike
2. States using legal language
D. Reactions ambiguous in legal terms
1. States asserting understanding for the US strike
2. Reactions possibly implying some political opposition against the US strike
3. Reactions offering an ambiguous political position
4. Reactions offering no political position (neutral)
II. State Reactions to Iranian Strikes on 8 January 2020
A. Directly affected States
B. States condemning the Iranian strikes
C. States endorsing the Iranian strikes
D. States taking note of the Iranian strike (and possibly the US strike), but not taking an express position
E. States that did not comment on the incident/no comment found

Introduction

Some preliminary observations and summary

States throughout the world took note of the United States’ and Iran’s use of force. While all States reacting to the military operations expressed concern, not all States were willing to take a position. Particularly during the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, however, many States emphasized the importance of international law in the situation.

Reactions were more legal and nuanced for the US strikes. This is also reflected in our categorization for the US strikes. For these, we established three main camps:

First, statements indicating the legality of the US strike.

Here we identified two subsets:

1. Statements that explicitly defend the legality of the strike and
2. Statements that more implicitly indicate the legality of the strike.

Second, statements claiming the unlawful status of the US strike, again broken into two subsets: explicit and implicit rejections of the legal basis of the US strike.

Third, most reactions were more ambiguous with respect to their legal relevance, avoiding any explicit or implied reference to the international legal status of the strikes. We identified four subsets here:

1. Many US allies implicitly showed political understanding or support.
2. Other States possibly opposed the US strike.
3. Some States offered ambiguous political statements.
4. Many States offered no political position, avoiding siding with either party.

This categorization raises questions about the legal relevance of some statements. For example, to what extent does a State take a legal position when it uses legal language yet deliberately avoids an explicit reference to the law or to the incident, respectively? How to qualify ambiguous statements that neither reject, nor expressly support the strikes? Do they assert legality? And if so, why and under what circumstances? Does a statement showing understanding for the US strike suffice? And how about reactions that imply opposition? Do they have legal relevance suggesting the illegality to the strike? Some of these issues were discussed in relation to the US strike in Syria in April 2018 (for one view see e.g. here and here). Our categorization intends to leave the answers to these questions entirely to the reader.

In comparison, reactions to the Iranian strikes were more straightforward. In general, States either condemned the strikes or refrained from taking a position. However, similar questions on the legal value of these reactions arise. For instance, how is silence assessed, when the same State had called the US strike as an illegal use of force? What does it mean that States emphasize specific aspects of the incident when condemning the Iranian strike?

For both incidents, legal questions were not discussed by States in particular detail. However, the fact that the strikes occurred on Iraq’s territory – which has not received as much expert commentary in this case (but see now here) and in general (see here) – received at least some attention in States’ considerations.

States’ reactions to the United States’ use of force

 Some States (e.g. Israel, Kosovo, the United Kingdom and Latvia) explicitly defended the legality of the US strike under the right of self-defense. To the best of our knowledge, Lithuania is the only State referring to an imminent attack. Other States used legal language indicating the legality of the strike, some with self-defense language similar to the initial US statements (e.g. Albania and Romania). Brazil asserted that the strike was a counter-terrorism measure. On the other hand, several States (e.g. China, Cuba, Lebanon, Malaysia, Russia, Syria, Venezuela) explicitly referred to the illegality of the strike. Few (e.g. South Africa) expressed, in the context of this case, their principled view against “illegal and unilateral use of force” (see also Liechtenstein).

Most reactions, however, were more reluctant to express views in legal terms. Many US allies showed understanding for the strike – not explicitly however but implicitly, for example, by way of referring to past Iranian attacks. Other States (e.g. Azerbaijan, Egypt) and the League of Arab States possibly implied some opposition. Some States offered ambiguous political statements, nevertheless using legal terms such as “armed attack” (Slovenia) or “defensive” (Ukraine). A large group of States and international organizations did not side with either party, but mostly articulated their concern over the security situation.

Considering the tendency among scholars to view the US strike as illegal, and despite some clear articulations of legal claims by the directly affected States, it is remarkable that States and international organizations seemed still reluctant to reveal a clear legal position. The majority of States remained silent. Against this background, it might be most instructive to focus on the fact that only few States seemed to assert the legality of the strike in more explicit terms.

The legality of the strike in relation to Iraq seemed to attract some attention by the international community (e.g. China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria). Iraq’s letter addressed to the UN Security Council appears not to have gone unnoticed.

States’ reactions to Iran’s use of force

Several features are noteworthy for States’ reactions to Iran’s use of force.

Primarily Western States condemned the strikes; one State (Syria) endorsed the strike; most other States remained (utterly) silent. In general, in contrast to the US strike, legal considerations do not feature prominently in reactions to the Iranian use of force. This is in particular true for condemnations. Unlike for the US use of force, there was no third State that unambiguously stated that the action was illegal. Very few used legal language. For example, no State expressly denied the application of the right of self-defense here. No State unequivocally indicated that the counterstrike might have been a retaliation. No State particularly highlighted the legality of the preceding US strike. Instead, many States remained silent in legal terms. Notably, even the United States appeared to merely take note of the attack but refrained from a legal qualification. Many other third States condemning the Iranian use of force emphasized that coalition forces, not just US forces, were located at the targeted military bases. Thus, they seem to qualify their condemnation. And merely one State, Saudi Arabia, expressly joined Iraq in condemning the Iranian strikes as violation of its sovereignty, without however taking a position on a right of self-defense against the United States (but see more carefully the EU and France).

The majority of States remained silent or neutral. Especially noteworthy here are those States (e.g. China, Nicaragua, Russia, Venezuela) that had condemned the US strikes as illegal, but almost demonstrably remained silent on the (legality of the) Iranian strikes. Another notable trend in reaction to this incident is the many general calls for non-escalation and compliance with international law.

As for the supporting State, Syria expressly supported the strike’s legality.

Four prompts for further assessment

Any observations that can be drawn from the data must be carefully circumscribed not least due to the limitation of the analysis to two isolated incidents in a particular conflict between two very different governments in a particular place and time. Still, we would like to offer four prompts for further discussion. The incident may suggest that:

  • The law governing the use of force is not irrelevant, but instead a meaningful factor on the global plane.
  • The law governing the use of force is applied politically by States, but not arbitrarily.
  • To the extent that States’ using force stretch the law, other States are reluctant to provide support.
  • On the law governing the use of force, States speak volumes through silence.

[Editor’s note: For a project at Just Security similar to this one, see Alonso Gurmendi Dunkelberg, Rebecca Ingber, Priya Pillai, and Elvina Pothelet, “Mapping States’ Reactions to the U.S. Strikes Against Syria of April 2018–A Comprehensive Guide”]

Return to Table of Contents

Compilation of Reactions of States and International Organizations

I. Reactions to the US Strike Killing Soleimani

A. Directly affected States

a) United States

The first US statement was made by the Department of Defense, on 2 January 2020:
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.

This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

On the same day, Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper confirmed:
Over the last couple of months Iranian-backed Shia militias have repeatedly attacked bases hosting American forces in Iraq. These attacks have injured our partners in the Iraqi Security Forces, but fortunately Americans were not casualties of these attacks until last week. […] After the attack last Friday, at the direction of the President, U.S. forces launched defensive strikes against KH forces in Iraq and Syria. These attacks were aimed at reducing KH’s ability to launch additional attacks against U.S. personnel and to make it clear to Iran and Iranian-backed militias that the United States will not hesitate to defend our forces in the region.

And, again, here (direct quotes can be found here):
[…] Esper said “provocative behavior” by Iranian-backed Shia militias has been ongoing for several months. The Dec. 27 attack was the latest, he said, adding that while he believes the attacks may continue, the U.S. is ready. “They’ve been shooting rockets, indirect fire, any type of things, attacking our bases for months now,” the defense secretary said. “In the last two [months] alone we’ve [had] nearly a dozen attacks against U.S. forces, against our coalition partners. So do I think they may do something [else?] Yes. And they will likely regret it. And we are prepared to exercise self-defense, and we are prepared to deter further bad behavior from these groups, all of which are sponsored, and directed and rescued by Iran,” Esper said.

On 3 January 2020, US President Trump confirmed:
“Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number-one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him. […] For years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force — under Soleimani’s leadership — has targeted, injured, and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen.

The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad, were carried out at the direction of Soleimani. […] Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years. What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved. […] We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war. […] We do not seek regime change. However, the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors, must end, and it must end now. […] If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary. And that, in particular, refers to Iran. […]”

Several statements followed, in which the United States also indicated a claim of self-defence against an “imminent” attack substantiating it by reference to past attacks against the United States, for instance:

Secretary Pompeo stated in an interview, on 3 January 2020:
“President Trump made the decision, a serious decision which was necessary. There was an imminent attack. The orchestrator, the primary motivator for the attack was Qasem Soleimani, an attempt to disrupt that plot. You all have been talking this morning about the history of who Qasem Soleimani is. He’s got hundreds of American lives’ blood on his hands. But what was sitting before us was his travels throughout the region and his efforts to make a significant strike against Americans. There would have been many Muslims killed as well – Iraqis, people in other countries as well. It was a strike that was aimed at both disrupting that plot, deterring further aggression, and we hope setting the conditions for de-escalation as well. […]

QUESTION: […] The Pentagon did release a statement that one of the reasons that he was taken out now was because he was planning more attacks on Americans. What can you tell us about that generally?

SECRETARY POMPEO: […] I can’t say much more, but you need not look any further back than just the last few months – dozens and dozens of attacks against American and allied interests throughout the region by Iran and its proxies, culminating in what happened with an American killed on December 27th. […]

I can only confirm that General Soleimani is dead; but if Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is passed away as well, again, less risk in the Middle East, more freedom for Iraqis, more opportunity for Iraqi people to stand up and get a independent, free, sovereign Iraq built. It’s what America has been there for. We’ll continue to work it. We’ll continue to fight ISIS in the region. We’re committed to making sure that Americans are safe from terror wherever we find it. […]

[N]ow was important because of the escalations that’s taken place as well as the imminency of attack that Qasem Soleimani himself was planning. […] The risk of doing nothing was enormous, enormous in the short term in terms of the imminent attack that Qasem Soleimani was plotting, but also highly risky – doing nothing in this region shows weakness. It emboldens Iran. […]

This was a thoughtful approach. It was an intelligence-based approach. It was a whole-of-government approach. President Trump, through this whole process, was in charge of directing our actions. And as we moved through the day yesterday, it became clear that we were going to have this opportunity to disrupt this plot, and we achieved that.

In an another interview, on 5 January 2020, Secretary Pompeo stated:
“QUESTION: […] Why now? Why was it urgent this week?

SECRETARY POMPEO: […] This was different in the sense of we’ve seen recent deaths, a recent killing on December 27th. A strike, an operation conducted by Kata’ib Hizballah, directed and orchestrated by Soleimani himself, killed an American. We could see that he was continuing down this path, that there were, in fact, plots that he was working on that were aimed directly at significant harm to American interests throughout the region, not just in Iraq. […]

QUESTION: […] why are you convinced that taking out Soleimani has done anything to stop it?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We would have been culpably negligent had we not taken this action. The American people would have said that we weren’t doing the right thing to protect and defend American lives. President Trump has been crystal clear – has been crystal clear.

QUESTION: Is it that imminent? […]

SECRETARY POMPEO: We made the right decision. There was lots of intelligence. You’ve seen some of it’s out in the public, right? The death of the American on December 27th. We had intelligence on the go forward basis of risk as well. The President made the right decision. We will reduce risk. I think General Milley said: Is there still risk of attack? Of course there is. There’s a tremendous risk. […]

QUESTION: Okay. I just – so was the justification in that he’s been this destabilizing force in the region for so long, or was the justification this imminent threat?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Chuck, it’s never one thing. You’ve been at this a long time. The American people are smart, too. It’s never one moment. It’s never one instance. It’s a collective. It’s a full situational awareness of risk and analysis. And I am confident – and the Intelligence Community presented us a set of facts that made clear – that the risk from doing nothing exceeded the risk of taking the action that we took. And we made the right decision; we protected and defended the American people. […]”

 On 7 January 2020, Secretary Pompeo made remarks to the press:
“QUESTION: To your knowledge, was any legal counsel in the Executive Branch consulted for his or her input surrounding the legal aspects of the strike prior to its execution?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I’ll leave to others to comment on that, but I can say, as a pattern of practice, I have never seen this administration engage in an activity of this nature without a thorough and complete legal review of what the bases would be if the President were to make a series of decisions. Often, the lawyers review all of the options that are being presented to the President of the United States in advance of them being presented, such that every option that is presented to him has been fully vetted through the legal process. I – I’m confident that that was the case here, although I don’t have specific knowledge of that. I’m confident that that was the case.”

On 8 January 2020, the United States sent a letter to the UN Security Council:
In accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, I wish to report, on behalf of my Government, that the United States has undertaken certain actions in the exercise of its inherent right of self-defence. These actions were in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in recent months by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-supported militias on United States forces and interests in the Middle East region, in order to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran from conducting or supporting further attacks against the United States or United States interests, and to degrade the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force-supported militias’ ability to conduct attacks. These actions include an operation on 2 January 2020 against leadership elements of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force on the territory of Iraq. The United States is prepared to take additional actions in the region as necessary to continue to protect United States personnel and interests.

Over the past several months, the United States has been the target of a series of escalating threats and armed attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran. These have included a threat to the amphibious ship USS Boxer on 18 July 2019, while the ship was conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz, by an Iranian unmanned aerial system, which was previously reported to the Council, as well as an armed attack on 19 June 2019 by an Iranian surface-to-air missile on an unmanned United States Navy MQ-4 surveillance aircraft on a routine surveillance mission monitoring the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace. The actions taken by the United States occurred in the context of continuing armed attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran that have endangered international peace and security, including attacks on commercial vessels off the port of Fujayrah and in the Gulf of Oman that threaten freedom of navigation and the security of international commerce, and missile and unmanned aircraft attacks on the territory of Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, Qods Force-backed militias have engaged in a series of attacks against United States forces. Qods Force-backed militia groups in Iraq, including Kata’ib Hizballah, have conducted a series of indirect fire attacks targeting bases where United States forces in Iraq are located. On 27 December 2019, one such attack resulted in the death of a United States Government contractor and injury to four United States service members, all of whom were present in Iraq with the consent and at the request of the Iraqi Government for counter-ISIS operations notified to the Council in the United States letter dated 23 September 2014. In immediate response to this 27 December attack, the United States struck five targets associated with Kata’ib Hizballah in Iraq and Syria on 29 December 2019. Kata’ib Hizballah and other Qods Force-backed militias then participated in an attack on the United States Embassy in Baghdad on 31 December 2019, which resulted in significant damage to Embassy property.

Since our response, Iran on 7 January launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against United States military and coalition forces in Iraq. It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting United States military and coalition personnel at Al-Asad and Erbil.

The United States wishes to note – as it has done repeatedly over the past years – that we remain committed to a diplomatic resolution. We stand ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran, with the goal of preventing further endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime.

On 9 January 2020, during the UN Security Council Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, the United States stated:
“I would now like to address recent events that are connected to our discussion of the importance of upholding the UN Charter. Last week, the United States took defensive military action against Iranian threats. President Trump’s decision was in direct response to an escalating series of armed attacks in recent months by Iran and Iranian-supported militias on U.S. forces and interests in the region. These attacks are detailed in the letter we submitted pursuant to Article 51 of the UN Charter yesterday. This decision was not taken lightly. For years, Iran and Iranian-supported militias in the region have threatened the lives of Americans and shown unyielding contempt for the authority of the United Nations.

President Trump has made clear that his highest and most solemn duty is the defense of our nation and its citizens. And so, we will act decisively in the exercise of our inherent right of self-defense to protect Americans when necessary, as is recognized under the Charter. […]”

US President Trump made several statements on twitter about the situation:
Tweet of 4 January 2020:
Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently….

….hundreds of Iranian protesters. He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have…..

….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”

Tweet of 4 January 2020:
They attacked us, & we hit back. If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!

Later, during a press conference, 7 January 2020, President Trump stated:
“Q: Could you also clear up, Mr. President, whether Iranian cultural sites would be on any future target list?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, as I said yesterday, it was very interesting, they’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to maim our people, they’re allowed to blow up everything that we have and there’s nothing that stops them, and we are — according to various laws — supposed to be very careful with their cultural heritage. And you know what? If that’s what the law is, I will — I like to obey the law.

But think of it: They kill our people, they blow up our people, and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions. But I’m okay with it. It’s okay with me.

I will say this: If Iran does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, they’re going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly.”

Tweet of 5 January 2020:
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said he never saw any specific piece of intelligence information that Iran was planning an attack on four American embassies, as Mr. Trump had claimed just two days earlier.

US President Trump remarks in this regard, on 13 January 2020:
Q Mr. President, what did the intelligence show about the threat to the four embassies? What did the intelligence show?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it’s been totally consistent. But here’s what’s been consistent: We killed Soleimani, the number-one terrorist in the world by every account. Bad person. Killed a lot of Americans, killed a lot of people. We killed him. And when the Democrats try and defend him, it’s a disgrace to our country. They can’t do that. And, let me tell you, it’s not working politically very well for them.

So, we killed the number-one terrorist in the world — Soleimani — and it should have been done 20 years ago.

On 13 January 2020, US President Trump tweeted:
“The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was “imminent” or not, & was my team in agreement. The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!”

b) Iran

The Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted on 2 January 2020:
The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.

On 3 January 2020, Iran sent a letter to the UN Security Council:
I am writing to you regarding the terrorist attack by the armed forces of the United States of America which led to the horrific assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – an official branch of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran – and his companions on 3 January 2020 at Baghdad International Airport. […]

Conducted “at the direction of the President” of the United States, the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, by any measure, is an obvious example of State terrorism and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including, in particular, those stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations, and thus entails the international responsibility of the United States.

If anything, this unlawful and yet adventurist act clearly invalidates the claim of the United States that it is fighting terrorism. It is, in fact, fighting those who combat terrorists. Such a hypocritical policy – which also runs counter to the international obligations of the United States on combating international terrorism, including those arising from the relevant resolutions of the Security Council – seriously undermines regional and global efforts in combating international terrorism.

The designation, by one State, of an official branch of the armed forces of other State(s) as a so-called “foreign terrorist organization” constitutes a breach of generally recognized principles of international law and of the Charter of the United Nations, including the principle of sovereign equality of States, and cannot, under any circumstances, justify any threat or use of force against them, including in the territory of other States.

Categorically rejecting all reasoning and references made by the officials of the United States for justifying the criminal assassination of Martyr Major General Qasem Soleimani, and condemning this heinous crime in the strongest possible terms, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves all of its rights under international law to take necessary measures in this regard, in particular in exercising its inherent right to self- defence.

This extremely provocative move was aimed at escalating tensions to an uncontrollable level in a region already facing numerous challenges, and it is self-evident that the United States shall bear full responsibility for all consequences.

At the same time, it is incumbent upon the Security Council to uphold its responsibilities and condemn this unlawful criminal act, taking into account the dire implications of such military adventurism and dangerous provocations by the United States on international peace and security. […]

On the same day, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reportedly issued a statement calling for three days of public mourning following the death of General Soleimani and said there would be retaliation for the US strikes.

Iran’s President Rouhani stated on 3 January 2020:
There is no doubt that the great nation of Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge on this horrible crime from criminal America.

On 7 January 2020, Iran sent another letter to the UN Security Council:
I am writing to draw your kind attention to yet another provocative statement by the United States threatening to use further force against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On 3 January 2020 and almost immediately after the terrorist attack, the President of the United States threatened Iran “in particular”, stating, “We have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary”.

On 4 January 2020, the President of the United States once again threatened to “hit very fast and very hard” “52 Iranian sites”, including some very important to “the Iranian culture”. After a few hours on the same day, he threatened Iran again by stating, “We will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before”.

On 5 January 2020, when faced with the criticism that targeting Iran’s cultural sites would be considered a war crime under international law, he asserted anew that “We’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way”. On the same day, he yet again brazenly threatened that “the United States will quickly [and] fully strike” Iran “in a disproportionate manner”.

Overall, only in three days, the President of the United States, through extremely provocative and harsh statements, has threatened five times to use force against a founding member of the United Nations. Publicly repeating such provocative statements and unlawful threats is without a doubt a clear call for lawlessness, chaos and disorder at the international level, particularly with respect to a highly important common good such as peace and security.

Such unbridled threats by the President of the United States indisputably constitute a gross violation of the peremptory norms of international law as well as the very fundamental principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly its Article 2(4) that clearly prohibits the threat or use of force. […]

It is also evident that the threat to target Iranian cultural sites is certainly a flagrant violation of the basic norms and principles of international law, and any attack against such sites would be a war crime. Additionally, it should be born in mind that “damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind”.

[A]ll the abovesaid threats, including to dispatch more troops and “brand new beautiful equipment” to this already volatile region, would indeed further complicate the current tense situation. […]

While the Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek war, it seriously warns against any further military adventurism against it. Iran is determined to continue to strongly protect its people, to vigorously defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and to fully secure its national interests. Accordingly, in conformity with international law and in exercising its inherent right to self-defence, Iran will take all necessary and proportionate measures against any threat or use of force. This is in accordance with its inherent right under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, and Iran will not hesitate to exercise it when required.

The irresponsible policies and unlawful practices of the United States continue to not only endanger the very foundations of international law and order but also pose a real threat to international peace and security. The international community should not condone or tolerate this situation and must demand that the United States put an end to its continued unlawful and destabilizing measures in such a volatile region as the Middle East, particularly by withdrawing all its forces from the region.

Likewise, the United Nations Security Council must condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the unlawful threats and unfettered policies of the United States as well as hold it accountable for all of its wrongful acts and unlawful practices while compelling it to abide by the principles and rules of international law.

In various media statements held by Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, he stated the following:
First, interview of 7 January 2020:
This is an act of aggression against Iran, and it amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionately – not disproportionately […] We are not lawless like President Trump.

Second, interview of 7 January 2020:
It violated territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq. And it also violated the agreement that they had with the Iraqis. And that is why the Iraqis decided to kick them out. […] This was an act of aggression, an armed attack, albeit a cowardly armed attack, against an Iranian official in foreign territory. It amounts to war, and we will respond according to our own timing and choice. […] in exercising our right to self-defense, we are only bound by international law, unlike the United States, which is not bound by international law.

On 8 January 2020, Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against two Iraqi military bases hosting US and other anti-IS coalition member troops. For the reactions on this strike see below.

On 29 January 2020, Iran sent another letter to the UN Security Council:
“Further to my letters dated 3 January 2020 (S/2020/13), 7 January 2020 (S/2020/16) and 8 January 2020 (S/2020/19) regarding the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, I am writing to you regarding the letter dated 8 January 2020 from the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations (S/2020/20), in which, through a series of disinformation, fabrication and baseless accusations, as well as an extremely arbitrary interpretation of international law, particularly Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, a desperate attempt was made to justify the unlawful act of the United States armed forces in assassinating Martyr Soleimani. In this regard, I would like to bring the following to your kind attention.

In different parts of the letter, terms such as “Iran-supported militias” or “Qods Force-backed militias” have been used to attribute to Iran any action carried out against American forces in Iraq. The Islamic Republic of Iran categorically rejects the attribution to Iran of any armed attack against the United States by any entity or individual in Iraq and the region. Therefore, such an attribution is not only factually wrong but also professionally void of the minimum requirements of authenticity and reliability, thus making it legally null and void.

The United States has claimed that a “series” of “armed attacks” in recent months was conducted by Iran “on United States forces and interests”. In this context, I must stress that, during the years 2019 and 2020 and in gross violation of international law, the territorial waters and airspace of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been the subject of several intrusions and invasions and its armed forces have been the subject of armed attacks by the United States. Yet, in many cases, including on 20 June 2019, when a United States aircraft with 35 people on-board obviously violated Iran’s airspace, the Iranian armed forces exercised maximum restraint and avoided taking any action in self-defence. The details regarding this case and information on a number of other unlawful actions of the United States against my country are reflected in my letter dated 9 August 2019 (S/2019/652).

At the same time, in two cases that occurred in the years 2019 and 2020, specifically on 20 June 2019 – when a United States unmanned aircraft system, despite repeated radio warnings, violated Iranian airspace – and on 8 January 2020 – following the terrorist attack by the United States against Martyr Soleimani – the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran took measured and proportionate military action in self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. The details of these actions are reflected in Iran’s letters dated 20 June 2019 (S/2019/512), 9 August 2019 (S/2019/652) and 8 January 2020 (S/2020/19).

Recalling the two aforesaid cases in self-defence, my Government firmly rejects the claim that the Iranian armed forces conducted armed attacks against the United States in the years 2019 and 2020.

I must also stress that the claim regarding an incident on 18 July 2019, with respect to the targeting of an Iranian unmanned aerial system by the United States, was rejected in Iran’s letter dated 9 August 2019 (S/2019/652). Furthermore, the claims regarding Iran’s “attacks on commercial vessels off the port of Fujayrah and in the Gulf of Oman”, as well as “missile and unmanned aircraft attacks on the territory of Saudi Arabia”, are mere fabrications by the United States, which were categorically rejected by Iran in our letters dated 19 August 2019 (S/2019/667) and 2 October 2019 (S/2019/785).

In light of the above and in the absence of any credible evidence or reliable fact to substantiate the conduct of even “one armed attack” by Iran, it is evident that the United States claim that “a series of escalating threats and armed attacks” was carried out by Iran is an absolute fabrication.

Additionally, the United States argument that it had used force to “deter” Iran from conducting “further attacks” has no factual or legal ground, as it is founded on mere fabrication as well as arbitrary interpretation of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, which is totally rejected.

Consequently, the attack to assassinate Martyr Soleimani is a “terrorist act”, the legitimacy and legality of which cannot be justified on any ground whatsoever. As I stressed in my letter dated 3 January 2020 (S/2020/13), the designation, by one State, of an official branch of the armed forces of other State(s) as a so-called “foreign terrorist organization” is unlawful and cannot justify any threat or use of force against them.

The terrorist attack against Martyr Soleimani was a big gift from the United States to Daesh and other terrorist groups in the region – who welcomed his assassination, calling it “an act of divine intervention that benefitted”1 them.  However, in an outrageous act of cruelty, an official of the Department of State of the  United States has threatened that Martyr Soleimani’s successor will “meet the same  fate”. This is an explicit and public threat to commit a terrorist act by a State,  violating all principles of international law, norms of civility and responsible conduct. Warning about any further military adventurism or any possible terrorist act against Iran and Iranian citizens, including our armed forces, Iran stresses that it will not hesitate to exercise its inherent right to self-defence.  

The United States has attempted deceitfully to portray itself as advocating dialogue and peaceful means in resolving differences with Iran. This is far from the truth. Recalling that, in only three consecutive days after the assassination of Martyr Soleimani, the President of the United States threatened in five separate instances to use force against Iran – the details of which are reflected in my letter dated 7 January 2020 (S/2020/16) – it is crystal clear that such an assertion is mere duplicity and void of any sincerity. Furthermore, the imposition of illegal and inhumane sanctions by the United States, as well as its other hostile practices against Iran, runs contrary to such a claim. […]”

c) Iraq

On 3 January 2020, Iraq’s government tweeted:
We condemn in the strongest terms the assassination by US forces of Iraqi and Iranian figures who were symbols of the victory against Daesh.

The assassination of an Iraqi military commander holding an official position is an act of aggression against Iraq, and the Iraqi people.

Carrying out operations to assassinate Iraqi figures and figures from another country on Iraqi soil is a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation.

The assassinations violate the conditions governing the presence of US forces in Iraq whose role is to train Iraqi forces and assist in the fight against Daesh as part of the Global Coalition, subject to the supervision and approval of the @IraqiGovt.

We have today requested that the Council of Representatives (Parliament) holds an emergency session to take the appropriate legislative measures in a manner that preserves the dignity, security and sovereignty of Iraq.

On 5 January 2020, the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to commit to revoking its request for assistance from the anti-IS coalition, according to media reports (and here).

Iraq sent a letter to the UN Security Council on 5 January 2020:
Iraq has been combating international terrorism in self-defence and on behalf of all world States. […] We have repeatedly asked our allies in the war on ISIL to refrain from drawing Iraq into their bilateral conflict. We have stressed that Iraq must not become the theatre of that conflict; its sole focus is on combating ISIL, and it earnestly endeavours to maintain strong relations with the two parties. […]

The series of events that has taken place in Iraq over the last week has caused the security situation in the country to deteriorate rapidly. First, rockets were fired at the K1 military base near Kirkuk, in an alarming development. The United States of America responded unilaterally by bombarding joint headquarters of the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Forces near the Iraqi-Syrian border, without consulting with the Iraqi Government or allowing the necessary scope or time to investigate the circumstances of the incident. At 1900 hours on 29 December 2019, American aircraft targeted those sites along the border with Syria, in the area south of the town of Al-Qa’im. Dozens of members of the Iraqi forces serving under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi armed forces, were killed or injured. The incident led to a wave of public anger, which took the form of demonstrations outside the United States embassy in Baghdad, including some attempts to damage the outer wall of the embassy building. In accordance with the obligations of host countries as set forth in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963), the Iraqi Government diligently undertook to fully protect diplomatic and consular missions in Iraq. It fulfilled its duty by providing adequate protection to the United States embassy building and peacefully bringing an end to the demonstration in front of the building. It had hoped that all parties would then show restraint, help it to strengthen security and stability, and understand the sensitive nature of the broader political and security situation in the country. However, United States forces – which are present in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi Government, and subject to its approval – unexpectedly conducted another military operation, in a serious violation of the sovereignty of Iraq. At 0145 hours on 3 January 2020, the United States Air Force bombarded two cars near Baghdad International Airport, a civilian facility. The cars had been transporting Iraqi citizens and their guests. The deputy leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Jamal Ja‘far Muhammad (known as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis) – an Iraqi military leader with an official post – was killed along with a group of Iraqi and allied leaders. The incident amounts to an aggression against the State, Government and people of Iraq; a flagrant violation of the terms under which United States forces are present in the country; an alarming escalation that could ignite a devastating war in Iraq, the region and the world; and a grave threat to the societal security of the country.

The Government of the Republic of Iraq condemns in the strongest possible terms these American attacks, which violate the sovereignty of Iraq and the principles of international law. It stresses that it is fully committed to the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution and, in particular, the provision that Iraqi territory shall not be used as a theatre of operations against neighbouring States. It is committed to ensuring that foreign forces active in Iraq at its request do not come under attack. It emphasizes that any military mobilization or operations on Iraqi territory that take place without its approval and without prior coordination constitute provocative and hostile acts that violate the Charter of the United Nations, the relevant provisions of international law and the premises set forth in the letter dated 25 June 2014 from the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2014/440) and the letter dated 20 September 2014 from the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2014/691). In those letters, Iraq stated that the provision of assistance in the areas of military training and the use of advanced technology and weapons necessary to combat the terrorist entity ISIL must take place in accordance with the relevant bilateral and multilateral agreements, in full respect for the national sovereignty and Constitution of Iraq, and in coordination with the Iraqi armed forces.

Lastly, Iraq calls on the Security Council to condemn the air strikes and assassination, which amount to extra-judicial killings and contravene with the human rights obligations of the United States. This should not, however, become a means to avoid international responsibility. Iraq urges the members of the Security Council to assume their responsibility by ensuring that Iraq is not drawn into international and regional crises and tensions. It calls on all parties to exercise restraint, de-escalate, ensure that Iraq does not become a theatre of this conflict, and refrain from taking any action that could violate its sovereignty or endanger the safety and security of its citizens. We also call on the Security Council to assume its responsibility by holding accountable any party that commits such violations, which run counter to human rights, not to mention international law, and cause the law of the jungle to hold sway over the international community. My Government also urges all parties to refrain from taking any unilateral action that could weaken or disrupt joint international counter-terrorism efforts. Terrorists could take advantage of such a situation to carry out attacks on Iraqi territory or elsewhere, posing a grave threat to Iraqi, regional and international security.

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B. Reactions indicating the legality of the US strike

1. States defending the legality of the US strike

a) Georgia

The Georgian Foreign Minister tweeted on 3 January 2020:
“We condemned recent violence, provocative attack to the US Embassy in Baghdad. US has the legitimate right to defend its citizens. It’s time for diplomacy to de-escalate and reduce tensions @StateDept @SecPompeo.”

b) Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu stated on 3 January 2020:
Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right. Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks. President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense.

Later, at a conference on 8 January 2020, he reiterated:
Qassem Soleimani was responsible for the death of countless innocent people. He destabilized many countries. For decades, he sowed fear and misery and anguish, and he was planning much worse. President Trump should be congratulated for acting swiftly, boldly and resolutely against this terrorist-in-chief who was the architect and driver of Iran’s campaign of carnage and terror throughout the Middle East and throughout the world. What I am saying here today, openly, and what I have said in recent days, many, many leaders in the Middle East think. It is very important to say that Israel stands completely beside the United States. I once again want to say what I have said many times, and I repeat it today, and it is especially important today, America has no better friend than Israel and Israel has no better friend than the United States of America.”

c) Kosovo

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was quoted:
“Kosovo stands firm in support of the U.S. in its right to self-defense.”

d) Latvia

Latvia’s Foreign Ministry tweeted on 3 January 2020:
We stand in solidarity with our ally- the United States exercising the right of self defense, US strikes in Iraq followed series of dangerous and provocative actions by Iranian backed forces, we call on diplomatic efforts to deescalate and reduce tensions @StateDept @SecPompeo.

e) Lithuania

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania tweeted on 3 January 2020:
As any country, the #US has the right to defensive actions in response to imminent threat to its citizens. Following #Suleimani’s death, it is important to engage diplomacy, seek de-escalation & to avoid further tension. @StateDept.

f) The United Kingdom

The UK Foreign Secretary Raab said on 3 January 2020:
We have always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani. Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests.”

He is reported to have said on 5 January 2020:
The US have the right to exercise self-defence

[In the interview (video), Raab refers to past and future attacks against Western countries directed by Soleimani.]

The Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons debate of 8 January 2020:
“Jeremy Corbyn: The Government have said that they are sympathetic to the assassination of General Soleimani. What evidence has the Prime Minister got to suggest that this attack on General Soleimani, and his death, was not an illegal act by the United States?

The Prime Minister: Clearly, the strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine, since it was not our operation. I think that most reasonable people would accept that the United States has a right to protect its bases and its personnel. I remind the House that the individual concerned—General Qasem Soleimani—was, among other things, responsible over many years for arming the Houthis with missiles with which they attacked innocent civilians; arming Hezbollah with missiles, which again they used to attack innocent civilians; sustaining the Assad regime in Syria, which is one of the most brutal and barbaric regimes in the world; and, of course, supplying improvised explosive devices to terrorists who, I am afraid, killed and maimed British troops. That man had the blood of British troops on his hands.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN Pierce stated on 9 January 2020:
My foreign secretary […] said that we recognise the danger and threat that Iran poses to the Middle East. We recognise the right to self-defense. At the same time, we want to see tensions de-escalated. We want to find a diplomatic way through. And this is why the remarks we’ve heard recently about a diplomatic solution are so important. It means also that the government in Iran should be willing and committed to a diplomatic outcome as well. And I can pledge, Mr President, the United Kingdom stands ready to assist any diplomatic efforts.

On 16 January 2020, the Minister of State, Ministry of Defense, Baroness Goldie stated in the House of Lords during a debate on drones and international law:
“Following the killing of General Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike, I know that some concerns have been raised in this place and elsewhere. In particular, my noble friend questions what implications such actions may have for the future use of unmanned aerial systems and their proliferation more generally. So I welcome the opportunity afforded by this debate to clarify Her Majesty’s Government’s position.

Let me start by reiterating a point about the strike on Qasem Soleimani. It is important to be clear that the choice of air platform selected to deliver the strike has no bearing in determining whether the strike was lawful. Article 51 of the UN charter recognises that all states have an inherent right of self-defence, and it is for the United States to say how the criteria for self-defence are met. The UK will always defend the right of countries to defend themselves.

The US case was set out in a letter to the UN Security Council on 8 January. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, raised the issue of the UK’s relationship with the United States. The United States is a valued ally but, as has been observed in the past, that does not mean that we have to agree on everything. Good friends can reserve the right to disagree on certain things. We are united in our fight against terrorism but, in respect of individual acts, it is for the United States to be responsible for its own actions.

The United States asserted that Soleimani organised the strikes by militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah on 27 December 2019 that targeted a US military base in Kirkuk in Iraq and killed a US civilian contractor. The US is confident that Soleimani came to Baghdad to co-ordinate imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. As one of the commanders of the Quds force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, General Qasem Soleimani certainly had blood on his hands and was behind the murder of numerous United States and British troops. […]

The noble Lords, Lord Janvrin and Lord Judd, raised the matter of imminence. The legal test of an actual or imminent armed attack must be satisfied, and any action must be necessary and proportionate. The Attorney-General explained the Government’s understanding of the meaning of “imminent” in a speech on 11 January 2017. Consideration will be given to the immediacy of the threat, its seriousness and the likelihood of an attack taking place, among other things.”

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2. States using legal language

a) Albania

The Foreign Ministry of Albania tweeted on 3 January 2020:
We stand strongly with #US in reacting to Iran’s activities in the Middle East and fighting violent extremists like Soleimani. [Albania] supports [the US] defensive strikes and actions to defend democracy, peace and stability across [the world]! @SecPompeo @StateDept.

b) Brazil

Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on 3 January 2020:
Upon learning of the actions taken by the United States in recent days in Iraq, the Brazilian Government expresses its support for the fight against the scourge of terrorism and reiterates that this fight requires the cooperation of the entire international community without seeking any justification for or relativization of terrorism. 

Brazil is also ready to take part in international efforts to help prevent conflict escalation at this time. […] Brazil closely follows the developments in Iraq, including its impact on oil prices, and once again calls for the unity of all nations against terrorism in all its forms.

Brazil also condemns the recent attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad and calls for respect for the Vienna Convention and the integrity of US diplomatic agents recognized by the Iraqi government in that country.”

c) Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted on 4 January 2020:

RO is deeply concerned w/ recent developments in #MiddleEast after t/attack against #US embassy in Iraq – which RO strongly condemned – & t/consequent protective&preventive measures undertaken by US. De-escalation is essential to avoid further deterioration of security situation.

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C. Reactions indicating the illegality of the US strike

1. States claiming the illegality of the US strike

a) China

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang stated on 3 January 2020:
Q: A follow-up question on US air strikes in Baghdad. Does China think this operation was a lawful act? Iran official said that Iran will take revenge for the general’s assassination. What influence will this have on the situation in the region?

A: Like I just said, we oppose the wanton use of force or threat of use of force in international relations and believe that all sides should follow the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations to handle their relations and resolve differences. Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity must be respected, and peace and stability of the Gulf Region in the Middle East must be upheld. We urge the relevant parties, the US side in particular, to remain calm and restrained and avoid further escalating the tensions. This serves the interests of all parties.

China’s Foreign Minister said to US Secretary of State Pompeo on 3 January 2020:
China is highly concerned about the current situation in the Middle East. China has always advocated that differences should be resolved through dialogue and consultation and opposed the use of force in international relations. It is hoped that all parties concerned, especially the US side, should exercise restraint, return to the track of finding a solution to the problem through dialogue as soon as possible, and work for cooling down the tension.

On a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, China’s Foreign Ministry stated on 4 January 2020:
Lavrov said that Russia and China share the same position. The US act violates international law and should be condemned.

In a telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, 4 January 2020:
Wang Yi said that the military adventurist act by the US goes against basic norms governing international relations and will aggravate tensions and turbulence in the region. China opposes the use of force in international relations. Military means will lead nowhere. Maximum pressure won’t work either. China urges the US to seek resolutions through dialogue instead of abusing force.

Later, on 6 January 2020, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang confirmed:
The US military adventurism goes against basic norms governing international relations and aggravates tensions and turbulence in the region. China consistently opposes the use of force in international relations. Military actions will lead nowhere, nor will maximum pressure.

b) Cuba

Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, 3 January 2020: (Unofficial translation)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba strongly condemns the bombing of the United States against the Baghdad airport in Iraq and the use of missiles for selective murder, which constitutes a clear violation of international law and the sovereignty of that country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba warns that these aggressive, unilateral and unjustified actions of the United States represent a serious escalation in the Middle East region. […]

The Foreign Minister tweeted on 3 January 2020:
We strongly condemn #US drone strike on Baghdad airport and use of missiles for targeted killings. This action is a serious escalation in the Middle East where a conflict might break out with unforeseeable consequences for international peace and security. | #Cuba

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Cuba stated:
“However, continued violations of the Charter and breaches of international law, including the use or threat of use of force against sovereign States, acts of aggression against the sovereignty of other nations and interference in the internal affairs of States, continue to occur on a daily basis. We reject the prosecution of unconventional wars for purposes of hegemonic domination, attempts to reimpose a unipolar order, targeted assassinations of foreign leaders, the plundering and theft of natural resources, the imposition of unilateral coercive measures, policies of extraterritoriality, unilateral sanctions, all forms of pressure and all other such acts of aggression that undermine multilateralism, jeopardize peace and stability and disrespect the provisions of the Charter.”

c) Lebanon

Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry reportedly issued a press statement on 3 January 2020:
“The ministry also condemned the killing, calling it a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation against Iran.”

d) Malaysia

Malaysia’s Prime Minister was quoted on 7 January 2020:
“The act [of killing Soleimani] is akin to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, which happened across boundaries.” “Both are guilty of immoral acts, it is against the law.” Last week’s killing is an “another act where one country decides on its own to kill the leaders of another country.”

e) Nicaragua

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Nicaragua stated:
“Recent world events confirm that we are on the edge of the critical limits of civilization and that the long-sought peace among States and peoples is in a state of dangerous and growing insecurity due to State terrorism, aggression to sovereignty and violations of international law. Today as yesterday, we peace-loving peoples always reject the language of aggression and war. No State can resort to the use or threat of use of force in international relations. Such exceptionalist policies in violation of international law do not help resolve conflicts peacefully; on the contrary, they aggravate and subject the international situation to further stress.The vocation of peace and respect for the sovereign equality of States and non-aggression obliges us to resolve inter-State disputes through the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. […]

We express our concern and consternation in the face of recent events that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, including the selective assassination of leaders of countries that are Members of this Organization. Those illegal and unjustifiable acts deepen the very serious situation facing peace and security in the world.”

f) Russia

First, the Russian Foreign Ministry commented on 3 January 2020:
We were concerned to learn of the death of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Major General Qasem Soleimani in a US military strike on Baghdad airport. This step by Washington is fraught with grave consequences for the regional peace and stability. We firmly believe that such actions do not facilitate efforts to find solutions to the complicated problems that have built up in the Middle East. On the contrary, they lead to a new round of escalating tensions in the region.

Then, in several telephone conversations, the Foreign Minister stressed the illegality of the US strike:
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with US Secretary of State Pompeo, 3 January 2020:
Sergey Lavrov stressed that targeted actions by a UN member state to eliminate officials of another UN member state, and on the territory of a third sovereign country without its knowledge grossly violate the principles of international law and deserve condemnation. The Russian Minster pointed out that this act by the United States is fraught with grave consequences for the regional peace and stability, does not facilitate efforts to find solutions to the complicated issues that have built up in the Middle East but, on the contrary, leads to a new round of escalation. Moscow urges Washington to give up illegal military actions to achieve its goals on the international arena and to settle all problems at the negotiating table.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, 4 January 2020:
The ministers stressed that this US action was a grave violation of the fundamental standards of international law and does not contribute to resolving the complicated issues in the Middle East. Instead, it will trigger a new round of escalation in the region.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, 4 January 2020:
The ministers confirmed that it is unacceptable to use force in violation of the UN Charter and that all countries must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states. The ministers noted that the unlawful actions of the United States have aggravated the situation in the region. In these circumstances, Russia and China are interested in de-escalation and will take joint steps to create conditions for the peaceful resolution to conflicts.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, 4 January 2020:
Sergey Lavrov stressed that this US action was a grave violation of the fundamental standards of international law and does not contribute to achieving the counter-terrorist goals declared by Washington. The parties expressed concern over the potential serious consequences of the US action for peace and stability in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Pakistani Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi, 9 January 2020:
Mr Lavrov noted that Washington’s actions, in breach of international law, were fraught with grave consequences for peace and stability in the region. It was also reiterated that interstate differences should be resolved by peaceful diplomatic methods at a negotiating table.

See also the reply by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova to a question from RIA Novosti as regards a UN Security Council draft statement on the incident outside the US Embassy in Baghdad on December 31, 2019, 9 January 2020:
The Russian Federation invariably and consistently upholds the principle of inviolability and security of diplomatic missions. We were ready to work on the US draft this time as well.

But a few hours later, the US military delivered a strike at Baghdad’s civilian airport, which killed several people, including Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, commander of its Quds Force. True to its anti-Iran policy, Washington, without offering any proof, has accused Tehran of masterminding the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad and used an extrajudicial method to punish the Iranian general.

Against this background, the US attempts, in subsequent days, to promote their UN Security Council draft statement turned into a search for justifications for their unlawful and violent action. In this specific case, the UN Security Council’s approval of the proposed statement would have amounted to a display of disregard for the use of force in violation of the UN Charter and for the principle of respect on the part of all countries for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Russia stated:
“For many years now, the distortion of the norms of international law and mindless intervention have caused more suffering in the Middle East and North Africa than in other regions. The lack of a settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the illegal intervention in Iraq, endless violence in Afghanistan, the murder of the leader of Libya and destruction of the country, attempts to overthrow the legitimate authorities of Syria and the extrajudicial killing of an official of a sovereign State in a third country are but a few examples of actions that have left wounds on the body of international law and order.”

Joint Statement by President Erdogan and President Putin on 8 January 2020:
“We are deeply concerned about the escalation of the tension between the U.S. and Iran as well as its negative repercussions on Iraq. We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting the Commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region.”

g) Syria

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, 3 January 2020: (Unofficial translation)
The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in strongest terms the treacherous American criminal aggression which led to the martyrdom of Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Deputy Chairman of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Commission, and a number of the Mobilization’s cadres, which constitutes a dangerous escalation of the situation in the region. […] Expressing its full sympathy and solidarity with the brotherly Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Syrian Arab Republic is confident that this cowardly American aggression which led to the martyrdom of a number of elite resistance leaders will only lead to further determination to continue their approach in resisting any U.S. interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the region and to defending their national interests in facing the absurd policy of bandits pursued by the U.S., which poses a serious threat to the security, peace and stability in the region and the world at large.

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Syria asked:
“How is it that the Council remains silent on the United States criminal assassination of Iranian and Iraqi leaders who were combating the terrorist Da’esh and Al-Nusra Front in Syria and Iraq?”

h) Venezuela

The Foreign Ministry of Venezuela stated on 3 January 2020:
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its outright rejection for the attack carried out at the dawn of January 3 by US military forces in the vicinity of the Baghdad Airport, Republic of Iraq, in which the Commander of the Quds Forces of Iran`s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major General Qassem Soleimani was murdered.

It is an action that clearly raises tensions in the region, without any grounds of International Law, directly aimed at a military chief and a group of high-ranking officials from a sovereign country, who were in a conflict zone.

The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela regrets the deaths caused and conveys its feelings of condolences and solidarity to the peoples and governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq, while calling for respect for International Public Law and so that all the actors involved contribute to keeping peace in the Middle East.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Venezuela stated:
“Today we are witnessing the resurgence of supremacist ideologies that deny the equality and diversity of humankind, driving the world to the brink of war with unpredictable consequences — an armed conflict with which one State, believing itself to be above international law, threatens the very existence of an entire civilization; a State that trumpets its military power and its exceptionalist ideology to impose its national sovereignty over the sovereignty of all the peoples of the world. This is a return to the darkest moments of the last century, when domestic national objectives combined with ambitions of global domination to fuel the use of armed force out no international legal controls. This is endless war as a method of oppression and expansion of power — a world with no Charter of the United Nations!

We ask by what authority a Government may systematically violate, with impunity, the Charter of the United Nations by conducting indiscriminate bombings and extrajudicial executions; by violating the territorial integrity of or invading sovereign countries; by imposing coercive measures against more than one-third of humankind; by violating the principle of non-interference in internal affairs; by imposing collective punishment against civilian populations; by defending torture as a State practice; by threatening entire nations with naval blockades; by threatening to destroy the cultural heritage of a people; by violating the immunity of diplomatic headquarters; by conducting economic terrorism; or by preventing diplomats from States that do not obey its orders from exercising their rights in the United Nations? The answer is very simply — no Government has any such authority. No such authority exists.”

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2. States using legal language

a) Liechtenstein

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Liechtenstein stated (note that this statement may refer to both the United States’ and Iran’s strikes):

“In its seventy-fifth year, the Charter of the United Nations remains the centrepiece for multilateralism and the international rules-based order. Upholding its purposes and principles is indispensable for the maintenance of international peace and security. A clear renewed commitment on the part of the membership to that end is needed in the light of the ongoing erosion of certain key provisions of the Charter, including those governing the use of force, in particular given current tensions with the potential of further escalation.

In joining the United Nations, we all accepted that the use of force is illegal, except when authorized by the Security Council or carried out in self-defence. When invoking Article 51 preventively, States owe the international community a thorough justification, including evidence of the imminence of an external threat and the proportionality of measures to be taken in response. Excessively expansive and unchecked interpretations of Article 51 are a threat to the international rules-based order and an obstacle to the promotion of international peace and security.”

Liechtenstein’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations tweeted on 9 January 2020 (note that this statement may refer to both the United States’ and Iran’s strikes):
When invoking #UNCharter Article 51, States owe the international community a thorough justification, including evidence of imminence (where applicable), necessity and proportionality.”

b) Pakistan

The Spokesperson of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry tweeted on 3 January 2020:
“#Pakistan has viewed with deep concern the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threaten peace and stability in the region.

Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity are the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, which should be adhered to.”

“It is also important to avoid unilateral actions and use of force. All parties are urged to exercise maximum restraint, engage constructively to de-escalate the situation, and resolve issues through diplomatic means, in accordance with UN Charter and international law.”

c) South Africa

The South African Ministry International Relations and Cooperation stated on 3 January 2020:
The South African Government is alarmed by the escalating tension in Iraq, which has far reaching ramifications not only for the Middle East region, but also for international peace and security.

South Africa recalls and reaffirms the statement of the United Nations Security Council issued on 13 December 2019, in which the members of the Security Council had “called for maximum restraint and urged all to refrain from violence or the destruction of critical infrastructure”

Responding to these developments, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, stated: “It is crucial for all sides to remain calm and desist from taking any further action that will exacerbate the already fragile situation. South Africa emphasises its principled view that conflicts should be resolved through political dialogue rather than resorting to the use of force”.

South Africa reiterates the UN Security Council’s support for the “independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and prosperity of Iraq”.

South Africa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs further stated on 10 January 2020:
President Ramaphosa conveyed to President Rouhani South Africa’s condolences at the assassination of the Iranian Military Commander, Major-General Qasem Soleimani, in a United States military strike which targeted General Soleimani on Iraqi soil on Friday 03 January 2020. […] In the context of the pursuit of global peace, President Ramaphosa expressed deep concern at the military action by the United States which has led to increased tension and created conditions for retaliation. President Ramaphosa called on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and conduct themselves within the rule of international law.”

During the UN Security Council Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, South Africa emphasized, 9 January 2020:
Despite the noble aspirations of the Charter and its positive impact, some Member States have violated, and continue to violate, some of its central tenets. Article 2.1 of the Charter maintains that the UN is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members, however, unilateral actions and disregard for international law continue.

We must stress that the Charter is a compact that Member States have agreed to voluntarily abide by for their mutual benefit. There cannot be selective adherence to the Charter, as that would undermine the very credibility of the compact. The selective implementation of the Charter undermines the Organization and the post-Second World War international system of governance that we have developed.

The Charter makes very clear that the Security Council is the sole body that can authorize the use of force. Additionally, the Charter provides that States may act in self-defence, including confronting imminent threats; but such threats must be credible, real and objectively verifiable for the use of force without Security Council authorization to be justifiable.

South Africa is of the view that, to uphold the original intention of the Charter, which ultimately is predicated on peace, even in the event that there is evidence of a real and credible threat, any recourse to the use of force based on self-defence should be brought to the Security Council for authorization. Ultimately, the Charter seeks to prevent the use of force. […]

d) Turkey

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry stated on 3 January 2020:
We are deeply worried about the escalating tension between the US and Iran in the region. We strongly reiterate that turning Iraq into a conflict zone will harm peace and stability not only in Iraq, but also the entire region. In this context, the US air operation targeting the Commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad this morning will obviously further aggravate insecurity and instability in the region. It should also be noted that such escalatory moves threatening regional stability will further exacerbate the cycle of violence and gravely harm all parties’ interests. Turkey has always been against foreign interventions, assassinations and sectarian conflicts in the region. We invite all parties concerned to act with restraint and discretion, to avoid unilateral steps that can endanger peace and stability in our region, and prioritize diplomacy.

Joint Statement by President Erdogan and President Putin on 8 January 2020:
“We are deeply concerned about the escalation of the tension between the U.S. and Iran as well as its negative repercussions on Iraq. We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting the Commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region.”

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D. Reactions ambiguous in legal terms

1. States asserting understanding for the US strike

a) Argentina

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina stated on 4 January 2020:
The Argentine Republic expresses its concern over the recent events in the Middle East.

Violent acts in a global and hyper-connected world have the potential to have direct consequences worldwide.

The Argentine people can testify to this, having suffered international terrorist acts at least twice in our recent past.

In the face of this reality and based on our own experience, the Argentine Government urges the conflicting parties to take steps to ease tensions and to work towards a peaceful and negotiated solution to prevent an escalation that may jeopardize international security.

The Argentine Republic, as always, endorses negotiation and diplomacy as the pathway to settle disputes. 

Accordingly Argentina calls on the international community to play a constructive role and urges multilateral organizations to assume the responsibilities conferred upon them, especially with regard to peace and international security.”

b) Australia

The Prime Minister of Australia stated in a press conference on 3 January 2020:
“I will say that what we are urging and are in constant contact with our partners is exercising restraint and pursuing de-escalation when it comes to these issues. Our goal remains a united and stable Iraq, which is what also the Canadian government have said and we echo the sentiments that they have expressed. […] I would also say that we have been aware of the concerns that the United States have had in relation to some practices by the Iranians for some time and I will leave it to them to talk to what their actions are. But we’ve been aware of their strong views about those things for many years and I think that speaks for itself. But what we are pursuing is a restraint and a de-escalation of the situation and staying in constant contact with our partners over this issue as well as ensuring the protection of those Australians who find themselves in that region.”

c) Austria

Austria’s Federal Chancellor reportedly stated on 4 January, just days prior to his swearing-in:
Vienna is of course available as a location for possible negotiations if Iran and the USA want to hold talks again, […] We have had very good experiences with the negotiations on the nuclear agreement and believe that diplomacy is the only way to avoid further escalation in this situation. […] The killing of the general has been a reaction to Iran’s actions and behavior in the past. There have been repeated attacks on US diplomats and US institutions. In this respect it should be rated as what it was: namely a reaction. However, it is now important not to let the situation escalate further. Diplomacy is the only right way in this situation too.”

d) Bahrain

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain stated on 3 January 2020:
The Kingdom of Bahrain is following the development of events in the brotherly Republic of Iraq that came as a result of the condemned terrorist acts which the Kingdom previously denounced, stressing the need to de-escalate in order to overcome this period, and to address all forms of violence, extremism and terrorism. […]

e) Bulgaria

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria tweeted on 4 January 2020:
1/4 #Bulgaria follows with great concern the continuing escalation in #Iraq, which faces many security challenges. Utmost restraint is crucial to prevent violence spiral out of control that may have detrimental consequences for peace and stability in the region and beyond.

2/4 We support effort of @UN, #EU and the international partners to calm the situation. Without the #US led @coalition to fight Daesh, the stabilization and rebuilding of Iraq will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

3/4 In this context, exposing the personnel of @coalition to any threat is totally unacceptable, we urge the Iraqi authorities to prevent such attacks. Attacks against foreign diplomatic staff and premises is a gross violation of all diplomatic conventions.

4/4 The international community should unite to preserve the unity of # Iraq and support the stabilization and rebuilding of the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria also reportedly stated:
The assassination of General Soleimani is a fact. Our US partners have explained why it was committed. We will not give an evaluation of that. Our position is that we are calling for calm and de-escalation of tensions in Iraq

f) Canada

The Canadian Foreign Minister Champagne stated on 3 January 2020:
We call on all sides to exercise restraint and pursue de-escalation. Our goal is and remains a united and stable Iraq. Canada has long been concerned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, led by Qasem Soleimani, whose aggressive actions have had a destabilizing effect in the region and beyond.

g) Estonia

Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted on 3 January 2020:
Deeply worried by today’s developments in #Iraq. All parties must exercise restraint & seek diplomatic solutions to prevent further escalation. Iran’s repeated provocations in the region are damaging to #peace & #stability.”

h) France

The French Minister of Foreign Affairs stated on 3 January 2020:
France’s concern over the rise in tensions in the Middle East over the past few months. I noted that we and our interlocutors see eye to eye with respect to making every necessary effort to avoid further aggravating tensions and facilitating de-escalation in order to preserve Iraq’s stability and sovereignty and the security of the region as a whole.

In a telephone conversation with US Secretary Pompeo on 3 January 2020, the Minister
underscored France’s concern over the rise in tensions in the Middle East over the past several months, with a sudden escalation in Iraq in recent weeks. For France and all of its partners, every effort must now be made to avoid a further escalation of tensions and to facilitate de-escalation in order to preserve the stability of Iraq and the region as a whole.

In the current situation, France calls on all the parties to show restraint and on Iran to avoid taking any measures liable to aggravate regional instability or lead to a serious nuclear proliferation crisis. The parties to the Vienna agreement in particular must continue their close coordination and urge Iran to promptly resume full compliance with its nuclear obligations and refrain from any further contrary action.

The French Permanent Mission to the UN issued following statement, 3 January 2020:
Q: Can we ask you about the attack in Baghdad? What is France’s reaction? Is this a violation of the Charter?

We will just call for de-escalation, this is what we need now. We need de-escalation. We need stability in the region and we will really encourage everybody to work on de-escalation.

On 5 January 2020, the French President Macron stated:
In view of the recent rise in tensions in Iraq and in the region, President Macron emphasized his total solidarity with our Allies in the face of attacks carried out over the last few weeks against Coalition premises in Iraq. He expressed his concern over the destabilizing activities of the Quds Force under the leadership of General Qassem Soleimani and reiterated the need for Iran to put an end to it and to refrain from all forms of military escalation liable to further aggravate regional instability. He stressed France’s determination to work with regional and international partners to ease tensions.

On 7 January 2020, he reiterated:
President Macron underscored France’s deep concern at the recent events in Iraq and the region, as well as France’s determination to work toward easing tensions. He called on Iran to refrain from any measure likely to exacerbate the ongoing escalation of tensions.

He reaffirmed France’s attachment to Iraq’s sovereignty and security. These must also be strengthened by the presence on its territory of the international coalition, whose sole objective is to combat Daesh.

i) France, Germany, UK

In a joint statement, France, Germany and the UK stated, 6 January 2020:
We have condemned the recent attacks on coalitions forces in Iraq and are gravely concerned by the negative role Iran has played in the region, including through the IRGC and the Al-Qods force under the command of General Soleimani. There is now an urgent need for de-escalation. We call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility. The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped. We specifically call on Iran to refrain from further violent action […]. We recall our attachment to the sovereignty and security of Iraq. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilize Iraq. […]

j) Germany

First, the German Foreign Minister Maas tweeted on 3 January 2020:
Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas: “The US military operation followed a series of dangerous provocations by Iran. However, this action has not made it easier to reduce tensions. I made this point clearly to @SecPompeo as well.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson stated on the same day: (Unofficial translation)
[Federal Government spokesperson DEMMER:] The American approach is a response to a number of military provocations for which Iran is responsible. I recall the attacks on the tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and on the Saudi oil plant. We have condemned the attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and the recent attacks on the US embassy. We are also very concerned about Iran’s regional activities. We are at a dangerous escalation point. The important thing now is to contribute to de-escalation with prudence and restraint. […]

Question: […] Does that mean that you support the American approach?

DEMMER: I can only repeat once again that we are concerned about an escalation given the recent developments. That is why it is now important to contribute to de-escalation with prudence and restraint. […]

[Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry BURGER:] I might add the note that the action was not an anti-IS coalition action. […] Over the past few weeks, as Ms. Demmer has pointed out, we have repeatedly expressed that we share US criticism of Iran’s destructive role in the region. We talked about shipping in the Gulf. In the past week, we have had to take several positions on the attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and have strongly condemned the attacks on the American embassy in Baghdad. […] In view of the recent developments, we are of course very concerned that further escalation could have dangerous consequences for the region. In particular, it must be avoided that Iraq is drawn further into the conflict and destabilized. Everyone must also have an interest in the fight against IS successfully continuing. […]

Question: […] Do you think Iran has a right to defense or not?

BURGER: We, Ms. Demmer for the Federal Government and myself, have just commented on our assessment of the events.

Question: You have so far avoided characterizing or evaluating this attack in any way. I would like to know from you whether this was a targeted killing from your point of view and whether it contributes to the de-escalation that you are now warning of, or whether this was a destructive action, so you spoke of the Iranian acts.

BURGER: I don’t want to further qualify that now. I have shown how we generally assess the situation in the region and what our fears are. We have also shown that this action did not come from a vacuum, but that there is a long history. We strive to de-escalate the situation.”

On 6 January 2020, German Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said:
Question: […] My question relates to the statement made by the UN rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and executions, Ms. Agnes Callamard, who described the targeted killing of Soleimani and a dozen others as illegal in terms of both international law and international human rights law. I would be interested to what extent the Federal Government and perhaps also the Federal Foreign Office share the UN rapporteur’s assessment.

[Spokesperson] BREUL: I do not have the details here. I am sure that we know it

Mr. Burger had already said a few sentences here on Friday regarding general international law. We have seen the US justification for this. However, we lack the information to understand the reasoning. It is clear to us that military violence can only be the very last resort. For good reason there are strict limits to the use of violence in international law, and as the Federal Government we want to expressly adhere to this achievement. […]

QUESTION JORDANS: […] You mentioned the Iranian interpretation of the statements made on Friday. In Tehran, it was perceived as if the federal government had considered these aggressions, which were mentioned, as justification for the killing of Soleimani. Was this interpretation of the Iranian side correct? Does the Federal Government consider the killing of Soleimani to be justified?

BREUL: So we are practically going to the level of a second derivative, an interpretation of what we say by someone else. Our statements stand for themselves, and everyone is entitled to interpret them or not. I cannot say more about that. […]

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Germany stated on 9 January 2020:
The recent events in the Middle East are of serious concern to all of us. Regional security and stability are at stake. A military confrontation, let alone a full scale war, would have terrible consequences for the lives of the people in the Middle East and beyond. We are relieved to see signs of de-escalation and call for maximum restraint.

(Not a German official position) The German parliamentary research service, which provides analysis for the members of the German Parliament but does not indicate the view of the German Parliament, one of the legislature’s organs, or the German administration, concluded: (unofficial translation)
“With respect to the US drone strike from 3 January, one may strongly doubt the existence of a situation allowing for self-defense in terms of Article 51 UN Charter. Measured against the criteria of the Caroline-Case according to which a State that invokes self-defense must establish that the attack was “instant, overwhelming and leaving no choice of means and no moment of deliberation”, the US administration has not substantially demonstrated the preconditions for a lawful exercise of self-defense.”)

k) NATO

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg stated on 6 January 2020:
At our meeting today, the United States also briefed on the regional situation, following recent attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, and the strike against General Soleimani. For years, all Allies have expressed concern about Iran’s destabilising activities in the wider Middle East region. We agree Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon. We share concern about Iran’s missile tests. And we are united in condemning Iran’s support for a variety of different terrorist groups. We have recently seen an escalation by Iran, including the strike on a Saudi energy facility, and the shoot-down of an American drone. At our meeting today, Allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no-one’s interest. So Iran must refrain from further violence and provocations. […]

[Question:] Did you understand the assassination of Soleimani, General Soleimani? 

Jens Stoltenberg: This is a US decision. It is not a decision taken by either the Global Coalition nor NATO. But all Allies are concerned about Iran’s destabilising activities in the region, Iran’s support to different terrorist groups. And of course, we are extremely concerned about the recent attacks we have seen against civilian energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, or against Coalition bases in Iraq – bases which are important for our efforts to fight international terrorism in Iraq and in Syria.“

l) Philippines

The spokesperson of the President of the Philippines stated in a press briefing on 7 January 2020:
The President was very specific in saying last night that if the Filipinos are harmed, he will side with the Americans. That is precisely why he is specifically instructed Secretary Mamao to go to Iran and Iraq and deliver special message to the Iraqi and Iranian government of his urgent desire and wish that no Filipinos be harmed in the course of the conflict. If they will harm the Filipinos, then the President will not sit down idly and watch. […] we are supposed to allies of the Americans and ‘yung enemies might also attack not only the Americans but the allies of the Americans. […]

[Unofficial translation of question: Doesn’t the President consider the US assassination of General Soleimani as an act of aggression?]

[Spokesperson]: I will not make any stand on that. That’s a fight between Americans and the Iranians. Ang foremost in his mind is the safety of our kababayans there […]

[Spokesperson: He is] not warning. It’s a friendly caution. He is expressing his concern for the safety of his countrymen which is foremost in his mind.”

m) Qatar

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar stated on 3 January 2020:
The State of Qatar has warned of the continuation of the manifestations of escalation in Iraq, saying that could lead to unfortunate results.

In a statement today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged all parties to exercise restraint to spare Iraq, its people and the people of the region, the vicious cycle of violence and the consequences of direct and indirect armed escalation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar further called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards the region.

n) Saudi Arabia

On 3 January 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted and it stated:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has followed the events in Iraq, which came as a result of the escalation of tensions and terrorist acts that the Kingdome of Saudi Arabia has denounced and warned against in the past of their repercussions. With knowledge of the operations and threats exposing the security of the region and the threats posed by terrorist militias that require their cessation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in light of the rapid developments, calls for the importance of self-restraint to ward off all acts that may lead to aggravating the situation with unbearable consequences. […]

On 3 January 2020, the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs emphasised on Twitter:
The Kingdom’s statement regarding the events in Iraq stresses the Kingdom’s view of the importance of de-escalation to save the countries of the region and their people from the risks of any escalation.”

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2. Reactions possibly implying some political opposition against the US strike

a) Armenia

The Foreign Ministry of Armenia stated on 3 January 2020:
We are seriously concerned about the recent incidents in Baghdad which led to human losses as well. They risk further undermining the regional security and destabilizing the situation in the Middle East and beyond. Armenia calls for the de-escalation of situation exclusively through peaceful means. Armenia will continue to closely cooperate with all its partners aimed at ensuring regional stability and security

b) Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on 4 January 2020:
The Azerbaijani side calls on all parties involved to refrain from violence and be committed to strengthen regional security. Minister Mammadyarov expressed deepest condolences to the leadership and the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the death of general Qasem Soleimani.”

c) Egypt

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on 3 January 2020:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is following with great concern the rapid developments in Iraq, which portend an escalation that needs to be avoided; Egypt, therefore, calls for containing the situation and preventing any further escalation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers that containment of the situation entails an immediate cessation of all types of regional interventions in the affairs of Arab states and its peoples, which only served to stoke divisions and tension among Arab nationals who eagerly aspire for peace and stability.

d) League of Arab States

The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States held on 5 January 2020: (Unofficial translation)
An official source with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States said that the Secretary-General is feeling a growing concern about the successive developments in Iraq since January 2. The source pointed out that the Secretary-General considers that the region is in dire need of what is now calm, not escalation and suppression of conflicts, not igniting and sustaining them. The source said that the Secretary-General considers that the events of the last days reveal once again the volume of foreign interventions in the Arab affairs and their high cost politically, in terms of security, economically and so on, indicating his aspiration to restore all Arab societies individually and collectively to the ability to exclude negative elements of influence from those interventions and maintain their sovereignty and stability.

e) Luxembourg

Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on 3 January 2020: (Unofficial translation)
History has taught us, with the outbreak of the war in Iraq and its consequences, that we cannot solve problems by making weapons speak. Diplomacy must take precedence.

Attacks on diplomatic missions are unacceptable. All the light must be shed on the recent attacks on the United States Embassy in Baghdad. It is the responsibility of the Iraqi government to guarantee the security of all diplomatic missions on its territory.

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3. Reactions offering an ambiguous political position

a) Slovenia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on 3 January 2020:
The Ministry condemns any acts of violence and armed conflicts witnessed in Iraq over the past weeks. Such actions heighten the risk of tensions escalating in the entire region.”

Later, the Ministry referred to past “armed attacks” in Iraq, 6 January 2020:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses grave concern over the heightening of tensions between the US and Iran. It condemns the recent acts of violence and armed attacks in Iraq, as these may trigger further disturbances engulfing the entire region. The Ministry calls on all parties involved to de-escalate tensions and preserve peace. […] Acts of violence and attacks on civilians, diplomatic missions and consular posts, and cultural monuments are in gross violation of the norms of civilisation and international law provisions. For this reason, the Ministry opposes any such acts. It calls on all sides involved to refrain from any action that would further destabilise Iraq and the region, to engage in dialogue and keep communication channels open.

The Slovenian Ministry tweeted on the same day: (Unofficial translation)
We are very concerned about the escalation of the US-Iran conflict. @MZZRS condemns all violence and armed attacks in Iraq in recent weeks and calls on all parties to de-escalate tensions with a view to maintaining peace.

b) Ukraine

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry stated on 3 January 2020:
Ukraine is concerned over continued escalation of situation in the Middle East after the attacks on the base of Operation “Inherent Resolve” and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, and this night’s U.S. defensive response in Baghdad. Ukraine proceeds from the utter need to prevent further escalation and any retaliatory actions which might endanger the stability in the region and global security.

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4. Reactions offering no political position (neutral)

a) Afghanistan

The Afghan President tweeted on 3 January 2020: (Unofficial translation)
We call on our great neighbor Iran, which has extensive linguistic, religious, historical and cultural commonalities with us, and the United States of America, which is a strategic and fundamental partner of Afghanistan, to prevent tensions and hope that both sides of the dispute will advance. Solve the problem through dialogue.

On the same day, he tweeted: (Unofficial translation)
Today, in speaking with the US Secretary of State, I once again emphasized the non-use of Afghan soil against a third country or other regional conflicts.”

b) Belarus

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus stated on 6 January 2020, on a telephone conversation with the US Secretary of State:
Whilst discussing the situation in the Middle East, Vladimir Makei condemned any actions that violate the privileges and immunities of diplomatic missions provided by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The Belarusian Foreign Minister stated that the Belarusian side calls on all the parties to show restraint and strive for de-escalation of tensions, and also stressed the need to comply with the principles of international law in order to ensure sustainable international security in global and regional terms.”

c) Belgium

The Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs tweeted on 3 January 2020:
I am deeply concerned about the risks of escalation in #Iraq. As a member of the @UN Security Council, I call on all actors to exercise restraint. International order must be respected and diplomatic missions protected. #BelgiumUNSC The solution to the Iraq crisis is political.

d) Cyprus

The government spokesperson stated: (unofficial translation)
“As part of its policy to respond positively to humanitarian operations, the CJ has accepted a request for temporary deployment in Cyprus of a US Rapid Response Unit to evacuate, if necessary, US personnel and citizens in the area. It is noted that the HR provides facilities for humanitarian operations on the basis of requests from third countries within and outside the EU and will continue to do so as a factor of stability and security in the region.”

e) European Union and its Organs

The European Union’s High Representative Borrell stated on 3 January 2020:
The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped before it spirals out of control. The EU calls on all the actors involved and on those partners who can have an influence to exercise maximum restraint and show responsibility in this crucial moment. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilise Iraq. Furthermore, the ongoing escalation threatens the whole region, which has suffered immensely and whose populations deserve life in peace. More dialogue and efforts to enhance mutual understanding are necessary to offer long term solutions to the stabilisation of the Middle East. The EU stands ready to continue its engagement with all sides in order to contribute to defusing tensions and reverse the dynamics of the conflict.

The President of the European Council stated on the situation in Iraq, on 3 January 2020:
The cycle of violence, provocations and retaliations which we have witnessed In Iraq over the past few weeks has to stop. Further escalation must be avoided at all cost. Iraq remains a very fragile country. Too many weapons and too many militias are slowing the process towards a return to normal daily life for Iraq’s citizens. The risk is a generalised flare up of violence in the whole region and the rise of obscure forces of terrorism that thrive at times of religious and nationalist tensions.”

f) Greece

The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on 3 January 2020:
Greece is monitoring the developments in Iraq with great concern. The stability of the country and the wider region remains a priority as well as the avoidance of any further escalation. Only this will enable the Iraqi people to return to normal everyday life, free from violence and terrorism. The situation calls for composure and sobriety.

g) The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council held on 5 January 2020:
“The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani explained that the GCC States have followed with great concern the serious events and developments in brotherly Iraq. Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani called on the concerned parties to calm down, not escalate, and prioritize political solutions to spare the region, which is already tense, and its people any negative repercussions on their security and stability.

At the end of his statement, the Secretary General called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to reduce escalation in this vital region of the world.”

h) India

The Indian Foreign Ministry stated on 3 January 2020:
We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US. The increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace, stability and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so.

i) Indonesia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on 4 January 2020:
1. Indonesia is concerned with the escalating situation in Iraq.

2. We urge all parties to refrain from acts that may aggravate the situation further.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Indonesia stated (note that this statement may also refer to both strikes):
The Charter of the United Nations embodies our collective hope and determination to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. At the same time, it provides a rules-based platform for dialogue and cooperation, bringing together nations large and small based on sovereign equality. Three-quarters of a century have passed since the adoption of the Charter, and it is saddening that we are seeing growing resort to unilateralism, countries withdrawing from internationally agreed commitments, and increasing use of coercive measures to achieve national policy objectives. We have witnessed such activities recently in the Middle East and many parts of the world.” […]

“The use of force has never been a solution and never will be. Indonesia calls on all Members of the United Nations to fully comply with the Charter and its implementation. To those that are not complying, we join the Secretary-General in the clear message that he sent very recently: “Stop escalation, exercise maximum restraint, restart dialogue and renew international cooperation.””

j) Italy

Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs held on 3 January 2020:
In the last few days, we have witnessed a dangerous escalation culminated in the killing of the Iranian General Soleimani. Italy makes a strong appeal to act with moderation and responsibility, by keeping open channels for dialogue, avoiding acts which can have serious consequences for the entire region. No effort should be spared to ensure de-escalation and stability. New outbreaks of tension are in nobody’s interest and are likely to be fertile ground for terrorism and violent extremism.

k) Japan

In a press conference, on 7 January 2020, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary stated (min 3:20): (Unofficial transcript)
In the Middle East region, tensions were heightened […] This is one of our grave concerns. The escalation of this situation shouldn’t be accelerated. So, the diplomatic efforts to diffuse the tensions need to be continued, and this is what we expect.

On 8 January 2020, the Chief Cabinet Secretary confirmed (min 2:30-3:00, 5:38-7:00): (Unofficial transcript)
In various routes, we are receiving explanations but this is a diplomatic matter. So, we refrain from making further comments. But, at any rate, […] there is a growing, an extremely strange situation in the Middle East and tensions should be avoided by all relevant parties, and diplomatic efforts towards reducing tensions, as we are requesting as Japanese Government.

[…] We will cooperate with the countries concerned and call for diplomatic efforts.”

Question: On the evaluation of US action, do you support or not support?

Answer: “As I said yesterday, the government – based on the growing situation – we have a great concern of a growing tension and escalation of further tension should be avoided, need to be prevented. For that, all the parties should make diplomatic efforts in order to ease the tension. That’s what we would like to stress. That’s the position of the government.”

Question: Is it fair to say that Japan has a neutral position?

Answer: “It is not about whether we are going to take a neutral position. As I mentioned, giving raising tension in the Middle East, we do have a concern and we should avoid further escalation of the tension. With that taking into account, all parties concerned should get involved to make diplomatic efforts to solve the situation.”

During a parliamentary debate, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi reportedly said that
“because Japan is not directly involved in the incident, it is not in a position to comment on whether the assassination violates international law or not. He also pointed out Washington has reported to the U.N. Security Council that the assassination was conducted as a response to attacks already staged by Iran and was not a pre-emptive assault, which is often regarded as a violation of international law.”

l) Mexico

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico tweeted on 5 January 2020: (Unofficial translation)
The @GovernmentMX follows with concern the recent events in Iraq and Iran. In accordance with the constitutional principles of foreign policy, endorse the value of dialogue and negotiation in the resolution of international dispute.

m) Panama

Panama’s Minister for Canal affairs was reported to say that Panama should maintain its neutrality.

n) Singapore

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented, on 8 January 2020 (note: it cannot be ruled out that the Ministry is referring to the situation following the Iranian response):
Singapore is deeply concerned about rising tensions in the Middle East and is monitoring the situation closely. There is an urgent need for all parties to exercise maximum restraint and de-escalate tensions and return to dialogue and diplomacy to resolve their differences.”

o) Sweden

Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted on 3 January 2020:
“Escalation of the situation in Iraq is of grave concern. Serious dangers not only for Iraq but for the region. All parties must exercise restraint. Important to support Iraq’s sovereignty and stability and to de-escalate tensions.”

p) United Arab Emirates

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the UAE tweeted on 3 January 2020:
In light of the rapid regional developments, wisdom and balance must prevail and political solutions prevail over confrontation and escalation. The issues facing the region are complex and accumulated and suffer from a loss of confidence between the parties. Rational engagement requires a calm and emotional approach.

Later, the UAE’s Permanent Mission made reference to its statement during the UN Security Council Debate on Upholding the UN Charter:
The UAE has supported the call made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to stop escalation in the Middle East and renew international cooperation, reiterating its commitment to seeking political solutions, playing a mediation role, and promoting the values of tolerance in the region and beyond. […] Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of the UAE to the UN, said, “Our meeting comes at a time when the Middle East is going through a critical time and troubling tensions, underscoring the need to ease these tensions, and to use diplomatic means to spare the region further escalation.” She added, “The provisions of the Charter were drafted amid World War Two and its first sentence emphasised the determination to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. However, ratification of the Charter alone is not enough to achieve its purposes and principles; instead, this requires continuous commitment and efforts by all States to achieve its loafty goals.”

q) UN Secretary-General

The UN Secretary-General’s spokesman stated on 3 January 2020:
“The Secretary-General has consistently advocated for de-escalation in the Gulf. He is deeply concerned with the recent escalation. This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint. The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf.” 

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II. State Reactions to Iranian strikes on 8 January 2020

A. Directly affected States

a) United States

On 7 January 2020, the Department of Defense issued a statement on Iranian Ballistic Missile Attacks in Iraq:
“[…] As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region. […]”

On 8 January 2020, US President Trump made remarks on Iran:
“[…] As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior. […] The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.”

In its letter to the UN Security Council dated 8 January 2020, the United States stated:
“Since our response, Iran on January 7 launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at last two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”

b) Iran

On 8 January 2020, Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted:
“Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.”

“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

On 8 January 2020, Iran sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council:
“[…]in the early morning hours of Tehran time, in exercising our inherent right to self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran took and concluded a measured and proportionate military response targeting an American air base in Iraq from which the cowardly armed attack against Martyr Soleimani was launched. The operation was precise and targeted military objectives thus leaving no collateral damage to civilians and civilian assets in the area. […]

Seriously warning about any further military adventurism against it, Iran declares that it is determined to continue to, vigorously and in accordance with applicable international law, defend its people, sovereignty and territorial integrity against any aggression.

I should also avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate the full respect of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Iraq. […]”

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps further warned that it will target
“US allies that are providing bases to America’s terrorist army that “any country serving as the origin of bellicose and aggressive attacks in any form against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

During the UN Security Council Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Iran stated:
“We are meeting today to discuss a momentous imperative with which we are all confronted. The world is at a crossroads. With the end of monopolies on power, one unhinged regime is frantically clamoring to turn back time. That has meant more damaging American unilateralism in defiance of international norms and law, including most recently a dastardly targeted assassination of the heroes who were the nightmare of such groups as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham. But since the regime’s inauguration, there have been more and more threats and attacks against the people of Iran and other sovereign nations in utter disregard of the Charter of the United Nations. It now even seeks to emulate the war crimes of Da’esh, menacing the cultural heritage of the millenniums-old civilization of Iran.

“Our action on 8 January against an air base in Iraq from which the cowardly armed attack against the martyr Soleimani was launched was a measured and proportionate response to a terrorist attack in the exercise of our inherent right to self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter. […]

On 16 January, Iran sent a letter to the UN Security Council responding to Iraq:
“Further to my letters dated 3, 7 and 8 January 2020 on the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq by the armed forces of the United States, I am writing to you regarding the identical letters dated 9 January 2020 from the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council (S/2020/26).

Iran’s act on 8 January 2020 was a measured and proportionate response, in exercising its inherent right to self-defence, against an American air base from which the cowardly armed attack against Martyr Soleimani – who was in Baghdad upon the invitation of the Government of Iraq – was launched. The relevant Iraqi authorities were informed, in advance, that our act of self-defence was aimed only at the American air base.

Recalling the strong fraternal relations existing between the peoples and Governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq, I would like to reaffirm Iran’s strong commitment to peaceful coexistence, friendly relations and good-neighbourliness with the Republic of Iraq and reiterate our commitment to respecting its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity – as has evidently been the case in assisting Iraq in fighting Daesh, wherein Martyr Soleimani played a leading role. […]”

c) Iraq

On 8 January 2020, the Iraqi prime minister issued a statement:
“[…]

The Prime Minister also urges all parties involved to respect international law. The Iraqi government will continue its efforts to prevent escalation and invites all parties to exercise self-restraint. Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty and condemns all attacks on its land. The Iraqi government will continue safeguarding Iraq’s sovereignty and will take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of all Iraqis.”

On 8 January 2020, the Foreign Ministry made a press statement:
“Iraqi land and bases were attacked on Wednesday, 8/1/2020 with Iranian missile strikes targeting military camps that include Iraqi and non-Iraqi forces.

The Foreign Ministry rejects these attacks and considers them a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, it calls on all parties concerned to show restraint, work to reduce tension in the region, avoid making Iraq a battlefield to settle their scores and to work to resolve the crises that afflict the region. We also stress that Iraq is an independent country, and that its internal security is a priority of great concern, we will not allow it to be a battlefield, a passage to carry out attacks, or to use its ground to harm neighboring countries, and the Foreign Ministry will summon the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to inform him of the above.”

On 10 January 2020, the Foreign Ministry issued a press release:
“On the background of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s bombing of military camps inside Iraq that include Iraqi and non-Iraqi forces, the Foreign Ministry summoned the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraq on the morning of 9/1/2020, the Chargé d’ffaires a.i of Iran, Mr. Musa Tabtabai attended representing the Ambassador as the Ambassador is in Iran on official mission and was informed of the rejection of the Government of the Republic of Iraq of these attacks considering them a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, as well as an invitation to all parties concerned to show restraint, and not to make Iraq a battlefield to settle scores. It was stressed that Iraq is an independent country, and that its internal security is a priority of great concern.”

On 10 January 2020, Iraq sent a letter to the UN Security Council:
“Further to our letter dated 6 January 2020 (S/2020/15) concerning the violation of the sovereignty of Iraq perpetrated by United States military forces on 3 January 2020, and on instructions from my Government, I am writing to inform you that Iraqi territory was violated yet again in the middle of the night of Wednesday, 8 January 2020 when Iranian missiles struck camps housing both Iraqi and international coalition forces. For Iraqi territory to be bombarded by the Islamic Republic of Iran on the pretext of self-defense under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations is unacceptable and constitutes a breach of the sovereignty of Iraq and a violation of the principles of good-neighborliness, the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

We reiterate that Iraq has not and will not pose any threat to the security and safety of neighboring States. Iraq resents being dragged into regional and international conflicts and having its territory turned into an open arena for the settling of scores. These acts and violations are flagrant provocations against the State, Government and people of Iraq, and are putting the peace, sovereignty, territorial integrity and social stability of Iraq at grave risk. They are turning Iraq into a theatre for a potential war that could be devastating to the region and the entire world.

Iraq calls on the international community to act to maintain the security, integrity and unity of its territory. It also calls on all the concerned parties to exercise self-restraint and work to reduce tensions in the region, avoid crises, and prevent a deterioration of the already fragile situation. It calls on the Security Council to condemn the disputing parties for their violations of the sovereignty of Iraq and the threat they are posing to its security and stability. My Government reiterates its willingness to cooperate with all neighboring countries and the international community with a view to finding common ground and arriving at peaceful solutions to bring an end to those repeated violations.” […]

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Iraq stated to have stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“Today, I recall once again that important event as I express our strong commitment to the fundamental rules that govern international relations. We stress our strong belief in the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter, foremost among which are respect for the independence, territorial integrity and sovereign equality of countries, as well as non-interference in internal affairs, good-neighborliness and the peaceful settlement of conflicts. We also believe in refraining from the use or threat of use of force and in eradicating security threats through cooperation in service to the basic interests of all peoples.

Iraq’s struggle against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant — terrorist Da’esh — from 2014 until our victory in 2017 was one of the positive developments in the region. It reflected the practical application of an important principle of the Charter, namely, the importance of international cooperation in tackling threats to international peace and security. That victory was achieved thanks to the sacrifice and blood of all the components of our security forces, with the support of our people and the international coalition, as well as our friends, brothers and neighbors. Iraq became the focus of everyone’s interest in eradicating the danger posed by Da’esh, which threatens international peace and security. All our friends and brothers agreed to commit to implementing the fundamental purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and to supporting Iraq’s fight against terrorism, restoring peace and stability and rebuilding the country after the destruction wrought by the terrorist Da’esh gangs.

Nevertheless, we must note the fact that some countries have not fully abided by the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and have chosen conflict over cooperation to fulfil their interests. They have resorted to force, thereby violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and leading to catastrophic consequences that threaten international peace and security. If they had abided by the United Nations Charter, things would not have escalated to such an extent or reached such dangerous levels as is the case today. The regrettable events witnessed by Iraq over the past few days and weeks represent clear provocative acts against the Iraqi State, Government and people. They endanger Iraq’s security, sovereignty, territorial integrity and social security and have brought it to the verge of a great danger, not only within the country but in the region and the entire world as well.

Accordingly, here in this Chamber we have stressed time and again the need to spare Iraq from involvement in external conflicts among friendly and ally States. Our territories should not be opened for such conflicts. That would undermine the victories achieved against terrorism and stability in Iraq as well as the universal campaign of solidarity to reconstruct the destruction caused by terrorism in Iraq. It would also undermine fighting the remnants of Da’esh and give the forces of evil and terrorism the chance to destabilize Iraq and the region, which would open the door once again for the terrorist group Da’esh to threaten international peace and security. […]

The recent violations of our sovereignty and territorial integrity have strengthened the will of the Iraqi people to disassociate themselves from all conflicts, crises and tensions in the region. That would dash the dreams of the Iraqi people to live in safety and stability. We have had enough war and destruction; we cannot bear any new wars in Iraq. The only thing we want is peace and stability. We are the enemy of no one; rather, we are friends to all. We hope that all parties will use wisdom and reason in their decision-making and resort to political and diplomatic channels, for those are the primary options for confronting current problems in line with the foundational principles of the United Nations, leading to respect for the Iraqi people and their sovereignty.

We condemn attacks and aggressions that violate the sovereignty of Iraq, the United Nations Charter and the relevant provisions of international law. We call on the Security Council to also condemn them and to continue shouldering its responsibilities to guarantee the stability of Iraq and ensure that it will not be involved in any regional tension or crisis. The Council should call all for calm, self-restraint, the alleviation of tension and the avoidance of any unilateral action that would weaken joint the international efforts against terrorism. Such action could be exploited by terrorists to carry out criminal acts targeting our Iraqi people, which would dangerously undermine national, regional and international security.”

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B. States condemning the Iranian strikes

a) Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted:
“The missile attacks on @coalition military bases in #Iraq are totally unacceptable and represent a dangerous escalation. We call for maximum restraint and active steps for decrease of tensions.”

b) Canada

Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne issued a statement:
“Minister Champagne also condemned Iranian strikes targeting bases in Iraq where Coalition forces, including Canadians, are stationed.”

c) Estonia

Estonian Foreign Minister Reinsalu tweeted:
“I condemn Iranian missile attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and express my support for Estonian soldiers there. Dialogue and deescalation are of utmost importance in the current situation.”

Foreign Minister Reinsalu stated at Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the United Nations Charter to Maintain International Peace and Security:
“Recent tensions in the Middle East concern us seriously. I have condemned attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and condemn missile attacks on the two bases in Iraq that also house Estonian troops. Despite some recent signs of de-escalation, the situation remains tense. I call for serious negotiations between parties to ease tensions and to avoid nuclear proliferation.”

d) European Union

Press statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell
“[…] I want to stress that the recent developments in Iran and Iraq and the whole region are extremely worrying and we have had a very fruitful discussion at the college about what the Commission can do. […] One thing is clear, the current situation puts at risk the efforts of the past years and also has implications for the important work of the anti-Da’esh coalition [The Global Coalition Against Daesh].

The latest rocket attacks on air bases in Iraq used by the U.S. and the coalition forces, among them European forces, are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further. […]”

The EU Ambassador to Iraq Martin Huth tweeted:
“Iran is violating Iraqi sovereignty by launching air strikes tonight. After Iraq complained about breach of its sovereignty on 3 January by US. Iraq does not deserve to be victim of proxy war!”

Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell after the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council
“On Iraq: the region cannot afford another war. We call for an urgent de-escalation and maximum restraint by every party. The crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilise Iraq, especially given its implications for the decisive work of the Global Coalition Against Da’esh. We condemn every attack on Coalition forces and we clearly state that continuing fighting Da’esh remains our priority.”

Outcome of the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council:
“[…] Ministers were invited to assess the consequences of the recent escalation of tension and major security incidents in Iraq and in the region and discussed the impact of these developments on the international coalition engaged in the fight against Da’esh. The Council called for urgent de-escalation and maximum restraint. It also condemned every attack on coalition forces engaged in the fight against Da’esh and restated that this fight remains a EU priority. Foreign affairs ministers stressed their continued support for Iraq’s stability and reconstruction, as well as for the preservation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), as a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture. […]”

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, Olof Skoog, issued a statement at the Security Council Open Debate on Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Upholding the UN Charter, speaking on behalf of the EU and its member States. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Ukraine and Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
“The unfolding escalation in the Middle East is an extremely serious case in point. It could jeopardize regional security and strengthen global terrorism. The EU is deeply concerned about the latest increase of violent confrontations in Iraq, and underlines the need for de-escalation and dialogue – and for respecting Iraqi sovereignty. The only way forward is a regional political solution in line with international law. In this context, the EU attaches great importance to preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) and to its full implementation. It is a fundamental element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and crucial for the security of the region and of the world.”

e) Finland

Finish President Nijnisto issued a statement on 8 January 2020:
“Finland condemns the missile strikes launched by Iran, which have targeted also the peacekeeping troops operating in the region. The international community needs to make every effort to break the circle of violence.

No information is currently available that the strikes would have claimed any lives. The Finnish personnel of the crisis management operations are unharmed. Finland is in close contact with the other countries participating in the operations to assess the implications of the situation.

Finnish troops are serving at the Erbil base which was targeted. Finland expects a full clarification from the Iranian authorities of their actions.”

f) France

The French Foreign Minster Le Drian held:
“France condemns the attacks carried out in Iraq by Iran overnight against Global Coalition Against Daesh bases. It reiterates its solidarity with its allies and partners in the Coalition and its commitment to Iraq’s sovereignty and security. […]

France recalls the importance of continuing the fight against Daesh, whilst fully respecting Iraq’s sovereignty.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate Upholding the United Nations, the French representative stated (note that this statement may refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“As President Macron mentioned in his speech before the General Assembly on 24 September 2019 (see A/74/PV.3), it is up to us, in a world that has become multipolar, to reinvent robust multilateralism that sees the spirit of the United Nations Charter and diplomacy prevail over national isolationism, States respect their obligations unconditionally and the Security Council act to restore peace and security. That is more necessary now than ever in the Middle East, given the current tensions and the risk of conflict. At a time when civilian populations there have already suffered too much from the scourge of war and terrorism, it is time at last to move towards de-escalation.”

g) Germany

The German Foreign Minister Maas stated:
“We condemn the Iranian missile attack on Iraqi military bases where coalition forces are also stationed. We call on Iran to refrain from any steps that could lead to further escalation. […]”

The German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in an interview with ARD broadcaster (min 2:20): (unofficial translation)
“I would only say certainly also in the name of the German Federal government that we reject this aggression in the sharpest possible terms. […] It is now primarily up to the Iranians to refrain from further escalation.”

In a press briefing the spokesperson for the Defense Ministry Christina Routsi, and the spokesperson for the German government, Steffen Seibert, stated: (unofficial translation)
“What I can say is that we have received a warning. By whom and how I will not discuss and comment on.”

“I would like to say for the German Federal government – what the Minister of Defense and the Foreign Minster have stated clearly – that we condemn the missile attacks on US military bases in Iraq in the sharpest possible terms and that we stand here in closest alliance solidarity with our allies.”

Minister of State Müntefering stated during the UN Security Council Open Debate Upholding the United Nations (note that this statement may refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“The recent events in the Middle East are of serious concern to all of us. Regional security and stability are at stake. A military confrontation, let alone a full-scale war, would have terrible consequences for the lives of the people in the Middle East and beyond. We are relieved to see signs of de-escalation and call for maximum restraint. The United Nations was founded on the central aspiration to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. We must be clear – conflicts can be solved only by political means.”

(Not a German official position) The German parliamentary research service, which provides analysis for the members of the German Parliament but does not indicate the view of the German Parliament, one of the legislature’s organs, or the German administration, concluded: (unofficial translation)
“The Iranian missile strike against US airbases in Iraq on 8 January 2020 is not covered by the right to self-defense according to Article 51 UN Charter, because the US drone attack against Soleimani was already concluded. The Iran invokes no imminent threat by the US, against which it might be necessary to defend itself by missile strikes. There are no authoritative indicators that the USA had planned to eliminate more members of the Iranian leading circles. The Iranian military strike is prima facie a reprisal.)”

h) Guatemala

The Government of the Republic of Guatemala stated: (Unofficial translation)
“Guatemala rejects terrorism and attacks against civil and military targets in Iraq.

The Government of […] Guatemala […] expresses its deep concern about the violent events in the Middle East, particularly the attacks perpetrated against civil and military objectives of the United States of America highlighted in Iraq in days recent events attributed to the Kataeb Hezbollah movement and more recently to the attacks on military bases in Iraq attributable to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In turn, it expresses its concern about the potential destabilizing consequences that such attacks and violence generate for that region and in the world. It also encourages all actors and governments involved in this conflict to make an effort to contain tensions, to avoid any escalation and to opt for a peaceful solution based on dialogue, in the exercise of constructive diplomacy together with relevant international organizations and in respect of international law.”

i) Greece

The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement:
“[…] It condemns the attacks on military bases in Iraq that are hosting forces of the international coalition against the Islamic State, in which Greece is participating.

There is an immediate need for de-escalation based on dialogue and respect for international law. […]“

j) Ireland

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland issued a press release:

“The latest developments with Iraq and Iran are extremely worrying. Ireland joins our EU partners in calling on all concerned to de-escalate, and in condemning the missile attacks overnight which targeted those involved in the fight against ISIS. Further escalation could potentially have devastating consequences and must be avoided. […]”

k) Israel

The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated:
“On the other side is the pragmatic camp that is threatened by Islamic extremists. This camp well understands the campaign for existence, for life and for the future. The State of Israel is the anchor of stability in these stormy waters. The challenges that we are dealing with are not lessening – on the contrary. Nevertheless, we stand steadfast against those who seek our lives. We stand determined and strong. Whoever tries to attack us will receive a crushing blow in return.”

l) Italy

Italy’s Foreign Ministry issued a press release:
“Italy follows with particular concern the latest developments in Iraq and condemns the attack by Tehran on two bases housing coalition soldiers. This is a serious act that increases tension in an already critical and very delicate context.”

“[…] We reiterate our firm appeal to all actors to exercise restraint and refrain from further mutual provocation. […] The military option cannot be accepted in any way. […] We are faced with common and more serious threats, starting with violent extremism and terrorism, which take advantage of tense situations to emerge more forcefully, posing a risk to us all. […]”. This is how the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi di Maio spoke regarding the attacks on US bases in Iraq.

m) Latvia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia condemns the missile attack on coalition forces at bases in Iraqi territory. This morning, 8 January, the Islamic Republic of Iran launched ballistic missile attacks on two military bases within the territory of Iraq.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry considers this aggressive action against the international coalition, which is engaged in training Iraqi security forces by Iran, to be unacceptable. […]“

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter Latvia stated:
“We are deeply concerned about the latest flare-up of violent confrontations in the Middle East. For the sake of preserving regional and global security and stability, it is essential to halt further escalation and create space for diplomacy. That is the only way forward to achieve a regional political solution and lasting peace while upholding international law and the role of the United Nations in the process. The credibility of the entire international system depends on our ability to effectively prevent grave violations of international law and respond to the multitude of new challenges. Here, the Security Council carries a special responsibility as the gatekeeper of international peace and security. However, the Security Council has not always lived up to the challenge, as indicated by escalating humanitarian crises and erupting conflicts.”

n) Liechtenstein

In a debate at the UN Security Council on the Middle East, Liechtenstein stated: (note that this statement appears to refer to both the United States’ and Iran’s strikes)

“The Middle East is experiencing dangerous levels of escalation that must be of immediate concern to the Security Council. The rising tensions between the United States and Iran and the related military actions are a source of grave concern. We hope that all parties directly and indirectly involved will exercise maximum restraint and recommit to diplomacy in order to reduce tensions.

The Charter of the United Nations sets out clear benchmarks with respect to the use of force, in particular with regard to very restricted and well-defined cases in which it is legal to use force against another Member State. The recent developments undermine the fundamental provisions of international law, upon which our collective security depends and which the Security Council is mandated to protect on behalf of all of us.

There is an alarming trend of asserting the right to self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter as the legal basis for preventive military action without appropriate justification. Such justification would include at the very least evidence of the imminence of an armed attack, as well as of the necessity and the proportionality of measures taken in response. Excessively expansive and unchecked interpretations of Article 51 undermine the international rules-based order and are an obstacle to the United Nations mandate to maintain international peace and security. We attach the utmost importance to preserving the integrity and authority of the Charter of the United Nations in that respect.”

o) Lithuania

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius tweeted:
“I condemn #Iran’s missile attacks on #US & coalition forces in #Iraq. Iran must stop escalating as promised. Looking forward to Friday’s EU Foreign Affairs Council, #EU can play important role on deescalation.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release:
“Iran has to stop performing provocative actions. The situation must be de-escalated. Lithuania is closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to work with our partners and allies towards a diplomatic solution – the transatlantic unity remains crucial”, said L. Linkevičius.

p) NATO

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted:
“I condemn the Iranian missile attacks on US & @coalition forces in Iraq.”

q) Netherlands

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands tweeted:

“The Netherlands condemns the Iranian attacks on army bases in Iraq where anti-ISIS coalition forces are based, including Dutch troops. The use of ballistic missiles by Iran is of grave concern. We are relieved that there seem to be no casualties.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter the Netherlands stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):

“Like others, we are deeply concerned about the recent events in the Middle East and it is of the utmost importance that we stop the use of weapons and give space to dialogue and de-escalation. It is the responsibility of all Member States to maintain and strengthen the multilateral system.”

r) Norway

Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen commented in a press release:
“We look very seriously at the attack on two of the coalition’s military camps in Iraq.

I am deeply concerned about the dramatic escalation we have seen in recent days. I urge all parties to help calm the situation and prevent it from escalating. […]”

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the Norwegian news agency NTB in reaction to the Iranian missile attacks:
“This is an escalation and a retaliation. Our main message is that it is important to find means to de-escalate this conflict. We are not served if this erupts into war.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter Norway speaking also for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden was reported to have stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“[… that] they are staunch supporters of the rules-based international order. […] The recent dramatic escalation in the Middle East is deeply concerning to Nordic countries, she said, urging all parties to exercise maximum restraint, restart dialogue and engage in peaceful means to resolve their differences. […]”

s) Slovenia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia tweeted:
“#Slovenia condemns today’s missile attack on military bases in 🇮🇶 #Iraq and calls for restrain and de-escalation.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Slovenia stated:
“Let me conclude by saying that, with the latest developments in the Middle East, the need for the United Nations to be a framework for dialogue is more evident than ever.”

t) Saudi-Arabia

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Saudi-Arabia stated:
“We meet today at a time when the world is more than ever in dire need of maintaining peace and security and upholding the Charter of the United Nations, especially as we witness frequent and accelerated conflicts and tensions, more so than we have seen in decades, especially in our region, the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia urges all countries to commit to the Charter. […]

The Council must compel Iran to respect the sovereignty of the States of the Middle East States and to abide by international law and treaties, while ceasing its attempts to destabilize the region and the entire world. We condemn Iran’s violation of Iraq’s sovereignty by attacking two Iraqi military bases. We stress the ongoing efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to protect brotherly Iraq from conflicts and wars so that the people of that country can live in security and prosperity. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will always stand by Iraq in order to thwart any attempt to destabilize its security and stability and its place in the Arab world.”

u) United Kingdom

On 8 January 2020, the UK Foreign Minister stated:
“We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition – including British – forces.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated:
“[…] of course, we condemn the attack on Iraqi military bases hosting coalition forces. Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, but must instead pursue urgent de-escalation.”

UK Ambassador Pierce stated during a UN Security Council Debate on Upholding the Charter:
“I’d like to close, if I may, Mr President, by referring to the current situation in the Middle East, the status featured in our debate today. My foreign secretary has recently been visiting Washington, and I would like to reprise what he said there. He said that we recognise the danger and threat that Iran poses to the Middle East. We recognise the right to self-defense. At the same time, we want to see tensions de-escalated. We want to find a diplomatic way through. And this is why the remarks we’ve heard recently about a diplomatic solution are so important. It means also that the government in Iran should be willing and committed to a diplomatic outcome as well. And I can pledge, Mr President, the United Kingdom stands ready to assist any diplomatic efforts.”

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C. States endorsing the Iranian strikes

a) Syria

The Syrian government issued a statement: (Unofficial translation)
“The Syrian Arab Republic declares its full solidarity with the brotherly Iranian people in what it is exposed to, and affirms Iran’s right to defend itself in the fact of American threats and attacks. At the same time Syria holds the American regime responsible for all the repercussions due to its reckless policy and arrogant mentality that governs its actions […].

The Syrian Arab Republic affirms that free nations have the right to respond to aggression against them in the ways they deem appropriate […]”

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D. States taking note of the Iranian strike (and possibly the US strike), but not taking an express position

a) Angola

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Angola stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“At the outset, allow me to reiterate my Government’s concern with the escalating tensions in the Middle East, including increasingly hostile confrontations, which have the potential to plunge the region into another deadly cycle of violence. As we gather in this Chamber today to discuss the importance of upholding the Charter of the United Nations, we urge all sides, under the terms of Chapter VI, to use all available peaceful means of resolution, and that any military intervention be approved by the Security Council.”

b) Argentina

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Argentina stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“This week’s crisis in the Middle East requires us to understand that full compliance with the responsibility of the Security Council and respect for the Charter are more indispensable than ever.” […] “The Charter provides for a delicate balance in authorizing the use of force, and in that regard the members of the Security Council have a fundamental responsibility that the other Member States have entrusted to them.”

c) Armenia

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Armenia stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“Today’s discussion is all the more relevant in the light of the current developments in Iraq and the wider Middle East. Armenia has expressed its concern about the ongoing situation and the risk of destabilization in its immediate neighbourhood and beyond. We have appealed for the de-escalation of the situation, and we hope that it can be addressed exclusively through dialogue and peaceful means.”

d) Austria

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg stated: (unofficial translation)
“Iran and the USA have to get back to the negotiating table. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth approach does not lead anywhere. “ 

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Austria stated in a general comment which might be applicable here (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“All States must refrain from actions that are in violation of Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter, prohibiting the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. We note with concern the increasing number of cases where armed force is applied unilaterally, invoking the inherent right of self-defence pursuant to Article 51 of the Charter. These cases and the fact that other States Members of the United Nations do not publicly express their legal views on each and every case may not be interpreted as a new State practice or opinio juris that might lead to the erosion of Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter, which the International Law Commission has determined to be a peremptory norm, or jus cogens.”

e) Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a media statement:
“The Government is closely monitoring the unfolding events in Iraq.

The Prime Minister, Chief of the Defence Force and Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs are in frequent contact. The Prime Minister has directed the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) to take whatever actions are necessary to protect and defend our ADF and diplomatic personnel and keep Australians safe. […]”

The Foreign Minister stated:
“Following the missile attacks carried out by Iran against military sites in Iraq today, I have spoken to our charge d’affaires/acting head of mission in Baghdad. As advised earlier, our DFAT team is safe. I am assured they are observing strict security guidelines as circumstances dictate. […]”

f) Belgium

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Belgium stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“For Belgium, this week more than ever, multilateralism is not limited to fine words during the ministerial week of the General Assembly. Multilateralism must translate day in and day out into concrete actions, making use of the institutions created under the Charter. In my country’s view, the role of the Security Council is therefore paramount when there is a threat to international peace and security.

g) Bolivia

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Bolivia stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“Today, we are going through a particularly challenging time for international peace and security. We live in a time of growing uncertainty and instability for global security. The existence of armed conflicts shows that geographic tensions have persisted or intensified in various parts of the world, as we have seen over recent weeks. […] The use of force should never be considered as an alternative. That is very clear. We believe that all countries should exhaust all peaceful means of resolving disputes before employing the use of force as a last resort. The application of that measure must always be occur in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter and exercised within the Security Council in the framework of respect for multilateralism, which underpins our Organization.”

h) Brunei Darussalam

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Brunei Darussalam stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
We are mindful that much more needs to be done. We continue to see conflicts all over the globe that have resulted in the loss of lives as well as distress and much suffering. We share the concern that security developments and the escalation of conflicts in many parts of the world could weaken our resolve to achieve our common goals.

i) Bulgaria

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Bulgaria stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
Nowadays, we witness security challenges of an increasingly complex nature. Just a few days ago, the Secretary-General stated that geopolitical tensions are at their highest level since the beginning of the new millennium. This is particularly relevant for the Middle East, where utmost restraint and de-escalation are crucial now to prevent violence from spiralling out of control and developments that may have detrimental consequences. […]

j) China

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuan stated in a press conference on 8 January 2020:
“Q: Iranian foreign minister tweeted today, “Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” What’s your opinion about this?

A: Situation in the Middle East is complex and sensitive at the moment. China has been closely following the latest developments. We call on relevant sides to exercise restraint and believe that they should resolve disputes properly and peacefully through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of mutual respect, and jointly uphold regional peace and stability.

Like we said repeatedly, worsening of tensions in the Middle East doesn’t serve the interest of anyone. Ensuring peace and stability in the region is of vital importance to the whole world.

China will continue to follow closely the situation, stay in close contact with the relevant sides, and play a responsible role in cooling off tensions and properly managing the situation.

Q: The Iranian side said their attacks on US military base were self-defense. What’s China’s opinion on that?

A: China is concerned about the current situation. We believe the relevant sides should resolve differences properly and peacefully through dialogue and negotiations on the basis of mutual respect, and jointly uphold peace and stability of the Gulf region in the Middle East.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuan stated in a press conference on 9 January 2020:
“Q: On January 8, US President Trump said in a televised speech that as the US continues to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, it will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on Iran. He also said, “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it.” I wonder what is China’s comment on that?

A: We are closely following the situation in the Middle East and calling on relevant parties to exercise restraint. Peace and stability in the Gulf region and the Middle East must be ensured as it serves the interests of all countries and is of vital importance to the whole world.

China holds that in state-to-state relations, all countries should earnestly observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, and resolve disputes properly through dialogue, negotiation and other peaceful means. We call on all sides to judge issues on their own merits, stick to political settlement, take concrete actions to cool off tensions, and make joint efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the Gulf region.

China will continue to uphold an objective and fair position and play a responsible and constructive role in ameliorating the situation and properly dealing with the situation. China has been and will continue to be a builder of peace, a promoter of stability and a contributor to the development in the Middle East.”

China’s representative stated during the UN Security Council Debate:
“The recent sudden heightened tension in the situation in the Arabian Gulf region has significantly increased the risk of war. Much remains to be done to achieve peace and security, as today’s world makes it more imperative than ever to uphold the Charter. […] We must firmly oppose the practice of putting one country’s own interests above those of others, oppose the wanton misinterpretation of international law, oppose the hegemonic logic of its selective application and oppose long-arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions. […] Currently, the United States unilateral military adventurism has led to heightening tension in the situation in the Arabian Gulf region. China supports Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for peace. We have been actively engaged in diplomatic efforts and are committed to playing a responsible and constructive role in safeguarding international law, equity, justice and regional peace and stability. We call on all parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint, return to dialogue and consultations without delay, jointly work towards a de-escalation of the situation […].”

k) Colombia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted: (Unofficial translation)
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Government of Colombia, follows with concern the recent events in Iraq, including attacks against military coalition bases, which has been attributed to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. […]”

l) Croatia

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia tweeted:
“Deeply worried about further aggravation of the situation in Iraq following the Iranian attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition forces. We call on urgent de-escalation and restraint.”

m) Ecuador

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Ecuador stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“The subject of this open debate is exceptionally timely in that, in addition to its action-oriented approach, it is forward-looking. We have just experienced difficult times of great uncertainty, while geopolitical tensions are at their highest level this century, as Secretary-General António Guterres said in his statement of 6 January, where he urged us not to forget the terrible human suffering caused by war (SG/SM/19929). In that connection, I would like to recall Pope Francis’ appeal that all parties ‘avoid an escalation of the conflict and keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-restraint, in full respect of international law.’”

n) Egypt

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press statement:
“The Arab Republic of Egypt is following with great concern the ongoing developments in Iraq and the Gulf region, as well as the current escalation in the use of military force. In this regard, Egypt appeals to all parties to refrain from spiraling into a cycle of mutual violence, and to assess the resulting dire consequences that entail the destabilization of the region’s security and stability, and the suffering and further casualties and losses endured by its peoples.”

o) Ethiopia

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Ethiopia stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“The topic that you have chosen, Mr. President, could not be more relevant in the context of the current state of affairs in the international arena and the role that the United Nations and the Security Council play in that regard. In 1945, Ethiopia was one of the only four African States to sign the Charter of the United Nations to establish a new world order based on international law and cooperation. It has indeed been an indispensable multilateral forum for advancing collective security and promoting sustainable development. Nearly 75 years later, the grand principles laid down by its founders — sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-intervention and the peaceful settlement of disputes — remain pertinent and immutable. Its primary purposes, as defined in Article 1 of the Charter, also remain as relevant today as they were in 1945.”

p) Fiji

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Fiji stated:
“The United Nations is commemorating 75 years since its founding. The United Nations was founded, as per the opening sentence of the Charter, with a vision to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. That responsibility ultimately lies with the Security Council. The Security Council sits with that burden. That burden could not be clearer in relation to developments in the Middle East over the past few days.”

q) Haiti

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Haiti stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“This debate comes at a time of elevated tensions and increasing concern in the Persian Gulf. In that regard, I would be remiss if I did not associate myself with the call for maximum restraint as made by Secretary-General António Guterres, with a view to avoiding escalation, unnecessary destruction and suffering.” […]

“For the peoples of the United Nations it has been first been a matter of ensuring that we have the means for collective and appropriate action in order, inter alia, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice within one lifetime brought untold suffering upon humankind. To reach that ambitious objective, the founding fathers of the Organization defined a range of purposes and principles in Articles 1 and 2 of the Charter, which constitute a true legal basis for the multilateral system.”

r) Hungary

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Hungary stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“I think that this is the right place to express our deep concern at the recent developments in the Middle East. We have learned the lesson in recent years that the security situation in the Middle East and the security situation in Europe have a very, very strong correlation and that whatever happens in the Middle East has a direct security impact on the European continent. We are therefore strongly interested in seeing a de-escalation of the situation and consider dialogue and diplomatic efforts more important than ever before. We are fairly sure that without all these, the situation will definitely get worse and worse. We urge the United Nations, and the Security Council itself, to fulfil its mission and take all the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

s) Japan

Prime Minister made instructions on the situation in the Middle East:
“1. Dedicate maximum efforts to gather and analyze information and provide the public speedy and adequate information.

2. Dedicate maximum efforts to protect Japanese nationals in the region. Collaborate with relevant countries and exert every diplomatic effort.

3. Take all possible measures for precaution, including readiness for contingencies.”

Japanese Chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga said during a press conference (min 3:20): (Unofficial translation)
“Given what happened, we need to keep an eye on the situation in the region to make a judgment.”

During a press conference Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu stated:
“Reporter: Iran has made a retaliatory attack on the United States. Please share your thoughts and the policy of the Japanese Government.

Minister MOTEGI: We are currently engaged in information collection and analysis. We will exert every effort to protect Japanese nationals. Such efforts have already begun. The Government of Japan has urged all parties to make utmost diplomatic efforts to ease tensions. It is deeply regrettable that this recent attack nevertheless took place. Any further escalation of the situation must be avoided. The Government of Japan will continue to closely monitor the situation in the Middle East with a high level of vigilance. Japan will continue to engage in diplomatic efforts towards the easing of tensions in the Middle East and the stabilization of the situation, while working together with the relevant countries. Various circumstances permitting, I intend to visit the United States next week and engage in consultations on this matter.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter Japan stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“For the rules-based international order to be upheld, the peaceful settlement of disputes, in accordance with the rules, must be promoted and accepted. In that context, Japan is following the recent escalation of tensions in the Middle East with great concern. We urge all parties to make their best efforts to peacefully settle the issues. In coordination with relevant countries, we will continue to pursue diplomatic efforts to ease tensions and stabilize the situation in the Middle East region. All unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion should not be tolerated.”

t)  Jordan

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter Jordan stated:
“In the context of the rapid pace of change in international political and strategic relations, the recent international crises, especially those in the Middle East, have shown the importance of the principles and purposes on which the United Nations was founded and its central role in establishing and maintaining international peace and security.”

u) Kazakhstan

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Kazakhstan stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“Unfortunately, the current world situation shows that the United Nations Charter as well as the principles of international law are being seriously tested, leaving the world on the verge of full-scale military stand-offs. In this regard, it is urgent to ensure a strict commitment by all Member States to the generally recognized norms and principles of international law.”

[…]

“Let us be frank: the United Nations Charter and other norms and principles of international law were not imposed on us against our will. We all collectively and independently accepted and acceded to them on a voluntary basis. That is why it is the obligation of each and every Member State to comply with their provisions, even if at times it does not seem to align with its interests. We should avoid situations in which international law and the United Nations Charter are used selectively.”

[…]

“In conclusion, the erosion of international law and global institutions, including the United Nations, poses a great danger for all of us. It is our strong belief that the Security Council, especially the permanent members, should be at the forefront of upholding the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law, and we all must show the collective will to abide by them.”

v) Kuwait

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Kuwait stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“At the outset, I want to underscore the dangerous escalation in the Gulf region, which is a source of grave concern for all of us. Its repercussions could affect the security and stability of the region. We echo the repeated appeal of the Secretary-General for de-escalation by calling for restraint in order to address the situation politically and prevent further tensions and threats.

Seventy-five years after the creation of the United Nations, the Charter continues to be a constitution that guides multilateral action. It is an instrument of international law that outlines a clear framework for governing relations among States. It also provides measures that allow us to address threats to international peace and security in a collective and effective way. The purposes and principles of the Charter include action to establish friendly relations among States by working collectively in a unifying manner in the face of aggression, while respecting the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of others.”

w) Luxembourg

Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk: (unofficial translation)
“Deutschlandfunk: The Iranian reaction came faster than many have thought. In your opinion how big is the risk of a direct military confrontation between the USA and Iran?

Asselborn: If I am not mistaken, I think there are signs for de-escalation. It appears that it has been a dosed response by Iran. The Americans have not struck back immediately. […] Sarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister has stated that they do not want escalation. Maybe it was a dosed response by Iran, that was not meant to target soldiers, but to show that they are capable of attacking American bases. This could be a sign of de-escalation.”

x) Malaysia

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Malaysia stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“A few days ago we were highly alarmed by the geopolitical tension in the Middle East. Malaysia has always believed that every effort should be undertaken to resolve disputes and conflicts through peaceful means in accordance with the principles of international law, without resorting to the use or threat of use of force. We join others in calling for all parties concerned to avoid further provocation, exercise maximum restraint and de-escalate tensions.”

y) Montenegro

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Montenegro stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
For more than seven decades, the world has faced countless peace and security challenges, while recent developments in the Middle East once again confirm the importance of dialogue and cooperation. We must be aware that any form of long-term instability will make all of us vulnerable. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever to address the root causes of conflict and work to prevent them before they escalate.”

z) Mozambique

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Mozambique stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
We gather here at a time of great anxiety, when menacing clouds of conflict and insecurity threaten to engulf several regions of the world in a never-ending spiral of instability, as recent events in different parts of the world attest. As Secretary-General António Guterres recently stated with his usual frankness “[w]e are living in dangerous times. … And this turbulence is escalating.“

aa) New Zealand

New Zealand’s acting prime minister, Winston Peters said:
“Now is the time for restraint and de-escalation, and for diplomacy to take over.” “It is important to note that the missile attacks did not target Camp Taji and the Government has been informed that all New Zealand personnel are as safe as they can be in these developing circumstances.” “The Government is working actively with our partners through military and diplomatic channels, and we continue to keep the security situation under close review, including implications for our personnel.”

bb) Nicaragua

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East figured prominently, Nicaragua stated:
“Recent world events confirm that we are on the edge of the critical limits of civilization and that the long-sought peace among States and peoples is in a state of dangerous and growing insecurity due to State terrorism, aggression to sovereignty and violations of international law. Today as yesterday, we peace-loving peoples always reject the language of aggression and war. No State can resort to the use or threat of use of force in international relations. Such exceptionalist policies in violation of international law do not help resolve conflicts peacefully; on the contrary, they aggravate and subject the international situation to further stress.

The vocation of peace and respect for the sovereign equality of States and non-aggression obliges us to resolve inter-State disputes through the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. […] We condemn State-sponsored terrorism and the violation of the sovereignty of other countries and international law. […] We express our concern and consternation in the face of recent events that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, including the selective assassination of leaders of countries that are Members of this Organization. Those illegal and unjustifiable acts deepen the very serious situation facing peace and security in the world.”

cc) Norway

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Norway stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“The recent dramatic escalation in the Middle East is deeply concerning to us all. It is of crucial importance that all parties exercise maximum restraint, restart dialogue and engage in peaceful means to resolve their differences. The international community must make every effort to contribute to a long-term political solution to the current situation.”

dd) Pakistan

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted:
“I have asked FM Qureshi to visit Iran, KSA & USA to meet with respective foreign ministers, Secretary of State; & COAS Gen Bajwa to contact relevant military leaders to convey a clear message: Pakistan is ready to play it’s role for peace but it can never again be part of any war.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Pakistan stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has also deployed personal efforts to reduce the tensions in the Gulf region. Pakistan will not become party to any regional conflict. We will always be a partner for peace. Recent events have amplified the multiple and complex threats to peace and security in the Middle East — the denial of self-determination to the Palestinian people and the disruption of the sovereignty and stability of Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

ee) Poland

Polands Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak tweeted: (unofficial translation)
“None of the Polish soldiers in Iraq suffered from rocket attacks on Al Asad and Irbil bases. We are in constant contact with the commander of the Polish Military Contingent in Iraq.”

ff) Qatar

The Director of the Policy and Planning Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Khalid Fahad Al Khater issued a statement:
“HE Director of the Policy and Planning Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Khalid Fahad Al Khater underlined that the State of Qatar believes that the collective security in the Gulf must adhere to the principles of non-aggression and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and the inviolability of international borders.

[…]

‘What is needed is a policy of maximum restraint. It is incumbent upon the international community to mobilize, with urgency, to undertake its legal and moral responsibilities. If we want to achieve security and stability, we should go beyond managing crises and seek comprehensive and just solutions in accordance with the provisions of international law and resolutions of the international legitimacy,’”

gg) Romania

The Romanian Foreign Ministry tweeted:
“The missile attacks by Iran against bases in Iraq hosting US military in no way contribute to diffusing the tensions and may result in the further severe deterioration of the security situation in the region. RO reiterates its firm appeal for de-escalation.”

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Romania stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“Recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa confirm that the international community has a responsibility to create openings for political solutions in support of lasting peace. There is no other viable option for us to take.”

hh) Russia

Foreign Minister Lavrov stated at a press briefing following talks between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan:
“As concerns the international agenda, they discussed the developments in the Persian Gulf triggered by the unlawful and very risky campaigns of the United States in Iraq against Iranian citizens, including Commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qasem Soleimani. On account of the events of the past few days, the presidents spoke assertively in favour of resolving all the issues in the Persian Gulf and the region in general solely by peaceful means and in line with international law.”

Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with Pakistani Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi:
“The ministers discussed the situation developing in the Middle East after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iranian Quds Force commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, by the US military near Baghdad and Iran’s retaliatory steps. Mr Lavrov noted that Washington’s actions, in breach of international law, were fraught with grave consequences for peace and stability in the region. It was also reiterated that interstate differences should be resolved by peaceful diplomatic methods at a negotiating table.”

Joint Statement by President Erdogan and President Putin on 8 January 2020:
“We are deeply concerned about the escalation of the tension between the U.S. and Iran as well as its negative repercussions on Iraq. We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting the Commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region.

In light of the ballistic missile attacks by Iran against coalition military bases in Iraq on 8 January 2020, we believe that exchange of attacks and use of force by any party do not contribute to finding solutions to the complex problems in the Middle East, but rather would lead to a new cycle of instability and would eventually damage everyone’s interests. We have always been against foreign interventions, unilateral military actions and sectarian conflicts. In this vein, we express our commitment to de-escalate the existing tensions in the region and call on all parties to act with restraint as well as common sense and to prioritize diplomacy.”

ii) Senegal

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Senegal stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
[…] It is fundamentally the weakening of multilateralism through the proliferation of unilateral actions that encourages repeated violations of the Charter and further undermines the gains made, at the cost of immeasurable efforts and sacrifices, in the area of peace and security since the end of the Second World War. The current situation in the Middle East amply demonstrates that causal relationship. In that connection, we express our serious concerns about the escalation of violence and the untold suffering of the civilian population and we call on the parties to show greater restraint and to negotiate with a view to reaching a successful outcome to all the conflicts. […] Respecting the Charter of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security also requires us to recall the basic principles governing peace operations. The consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defence must therefore continue to be paramount.

jj) Singapore

The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
“Singapore is deeply concerned about rising tensions in the Middle East and is monitoring the situation closely. There is an urgent need for all parties to exercise maximum restraint and de-escalate tensions and return to dialogue and diplomacy to resolve their differences. […]“

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Singapore stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“The new year has been marked by rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. As a small State strongly committed to the multilateral rules-based system, Singapore is deeply concerned by recent developments. There is an urgent need for all parties to exercise maximum restraint, de-escalate tensions and return to dialogue and diplomacy to resolve their differences. We fully endorse the call by the Secretary-General for parties to stop escalation and re-start dialogue in order to renew international cooperation. In the context of recent developments, the debate today takes on particular significance. There is no doubt that the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. However, all Member States can, and indeed must, contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security. In that regard, please allow me to make a few points.” […]

“Every Member of the United Nations, in particular the permanent members of the Security Council, have a responsibility to uphold international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. The rules-based multilateral system requires respect for international law by all States at all times. If there is a selective approach to implementing international law or if there are unilateral actions that ignore international law, we will encourage a culture of non-compliance. Over time, repeated non-compliance will have the effect of weakening and undermining our rules-based multilateral system. It is therefore important for all members to guard against unilateral actions and selective multilateralism.”

kk) South Africa

South Africa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to a statement made by the President, 10 January 2020:
“President Cyril Ramaphosa has held discussions with President Hassan Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran to express South Africa’s interest in a peaceful and just resolution of the tension between Iran and the United States. […] President Ramaphosa’s engagement with President Rouhani was informed by South Africa’s principled view that conflicts should be resolved through political dialogue rather than the use of force.”

ll) Spain

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, Spain stated (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“This debate is all the more important in the light of the escalation of tensions and dangerous situation in the Middle East and the Gulf in recent days, which we hope will be addressed through diplomatic means to prevent the further loss of life.”

mm) Switzerland

The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs was quoted that both sides should avoid escalation.

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East featured prominently, Switzerland stated (note that this statement may refer to the US strike or both strikes):
“Respect for international law, including the prohibition of the use of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes, is of vital importance to prevent escalations.”

nn) Thailand

During the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, in which the situation in the Middle East featured prominently, Thailand stated (note that this statement may refer to the US strike or both strikes):
I would like to commend Viet Nam for holding this open debate, which has come at a very timely moment when our world is facing immensely sobering security challenges everywhere, and most recently in the Middle East. […] Thailand believes that a peaceful solution to any conflict is not just the best option; it is the only option. Let us join hands to uphold multilateral diplomacy and use it to its best capacity. Through our firm commitment to multilateral diplomacy and the agile application of the United Nations Charter, this principle will continue to guide us through this turbulent world and ensure that it is not only the dead who have seen the end of war.

oo) Turkey

Joint Statement by President Erdogan and President Putin on 8 January 2020:
“We are deeply concerned about the escalation of the tension between the U.S. and Iran as well as its negative repercussions on Iraq. We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting the Commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region.

In light of the ballistic missile attacks by Iran against coalition military bases in Iraq on 8 January 2020, we believe that exchange of attacks and use of force by any party do not contribute to finding solutions to the complex problems in the Middle East, but rather would lead to a new cycle of instability and would eventually damage everyone’s interests. We have always been against foreign interventions, unilateral military actions and sectarian conflicts. In this vein, we express our commitment to de-escalate the existing tensions in the region and call on all parties to act with restraint as well as common sense and to prioritize diplomacy.”

pp) United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted:
“Essential for the region to pull back from current & troubling tensions. De-escalation is both wise & necessary. A political path towards stability must follow.”

qq) United Nations

UN Secretary General issued a statement:
“Stop escalation. Exercise maximum restraint. Re-start dialogue. Renew international cooperation. This appeal remains as important today as it was on Monday. For his part, the Secretary-General will continue his active engagement with relevant actors. It is our common duty to make every effort to avoid a war in the Gulf that the world cannot afford. We must not forget the terrible human suffering caused by war. As always, ordinary people pay the highest price.“

At the UN Debate on Upholding the UN Charter, he stated: (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes)
“At this time when global fault lines risk exploding, we must return to fundamental principles. We must return to the framework that has kept us together. We must come home to the United Nations Charter. Strengthening our commitment to that resilient, adaptable and visionary document — and thus to the very notion of international cooperation itself — remains the most effective way to collectively face the global challenges of this grave moment, and the decade before us. The Charter compels us to do everything in our power to save people from the scourge of war and injustice. As we face new threats, but also new opportunities for a better world, that is the work that must define the seventy-fifth anniversary year.”

rr) Vietnam

Pham Bình Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam stated at the UN debate on Upholding the UN Charter: (note that this statement may also refer to the US strike or both strikes)
“[…] The history of the United Nations is living proof of the true value of the Charter. Respect for the United Nations Charter has been pivotal in preventing another world war, promoting peaceful solutions for conflicts all over the world and maintaining international peace and security. Recent worrying events in the Middle East underscore ever more the utmost importance of upholding the Charter, especially the principles of non-use of force, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Disrespect for the Charter and international law, on the other hand, has been posing serious threats to international and regional peace and security and challenging the very relevance and legitimacy of the United Nations. Today emerging and complex global challenges make it impossible for single nations to cope. Inequality of opportunity, unilateralism and the abandonment of multilateral efforts are among the root causes of protracted armed conflicts. Power politics, the use or threat of use of force, coercion, interference or aggressive actions against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other States are escalating tensions in many regions. In such difficult times, the United Nations Charter proves to be more relevant and essential than ever.”

Vietnam’s spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry Le Thi Thu Hang tweeted:
“#VietNam is concerned about recent tension in #MiddleEast. We urged related parties to refrain from escalating tension & not to use force; to protect civilians & settle disputes through dialogues+peaceful measures based on int’l law.”

At a regular press conference she stated (unofficial translation):
“Vietnam is concerned about recent tensions in the Middle East. We urge all stakeholders to refrain from escalating tensions, not using force, protecting civilians, resolving disagreements through dialogue and peaceful means on a respectful basis. international law, for peace and stability in the region and in the world.”

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E. States that did not comment on the incident/no comment found

a) African Union

b) Arab League

c) Brazil

d) Ghana

e) Gulf Cooperation Council

f) Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

g) Organization of American States

h) Tunisia

i) Ukraine

j) Venezuela

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Image: Getty Images/Czgur

 

About the Author(s)

Mehrnusch Anssari

Mehrnusch Anssari is a Ph.D. candidate and a research fellow at the Institute for International Peace and Security Law at University of Cologne, Germany. Follow her on Twitter (@MehrnuschA).

Benjamin Nussberger

Doctoral Candidate and Research Fellow at the Institute for International Peace and Security Law at the University of Cologne, editor at the Völkerrechtsblog, Regional Coordinator for the Digest of State Practice for the Journal on the Use of Force and International Law. Follow him on Twitter (@bknussberger).