ANC condemns US airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani
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Cape Town - The African National Congress (ANC) on Saturday, condemned a series of airstrikes, reportedly by the United States, that killed the Commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani.
Soleimani -- a top general and one of the most powerful men in Iran -- was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad airport on Friday. One of his adviser's, top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack.
"We view this latest in-humane episode as an attack on the sovereignty and self-determination of the people of Iran. The ANC rejects this raw aggression against the people and government of Iran, which has the potential to plunge the Middle East and the World into a full-scale war. History has shown that the majority of the victims of this kind of international terrorism are the elderly, women and children. Young people also suffer serious displacement with the prospect of a bleak future," ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said in a statement.
"The ANC and all progressive formations of the world cannot afford to remain silent while the actions of the U.S appear to be undermining peace and security with impunity - a clear and deliberate erosion of Iran’s national stability. We urge the nations of the world, through the United Nations, to act firmly and expeditiously against this act of international terrorism. We urge all parties to this conflict to give peace a chance. We appeal for maximum restraint."
Thousands of people took to the streets in Iraq and Iran on Saturday to mourn Soleimani at services before his burial on Tuesday in his hometown Kerman.
According to reports, American President Donald Trump ordered the strike and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the airstrikes disrupted an "imminent attack" in the region that put American lives at risk. The US was reportedly sending thousands of additional troops to the Middle East in response.
Magashule said the ruling party would continue to "play a critical role in the continent and the Global Progressive Movement".
"The ANC rejects right-wing and populist-led unilateralism that undermines collective global decision-making. These are an affront to multilateralism by which peace and social justice will be created within and between countries. We reiterate our call to the international community and the progressive people of the world to defend any nation against the unilateral imposition of economic sanctions, unilateral military attacks and disrespect of its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” the statement read.
"The ANC-led government will utilise its [United Nations] UN Security Council membership to focus on the resolution of Regional and Global conflicts. We urge the US to take a leaf out of the African Union (AU) book on its commitment to silence the guns through a progressive call dubbed “silencing the guns by 2020” as part of Agenda 2063 aiming to create a better Africa - a trajectory that South Africa will openly advance and advocate for as it assumes the Chair of AU through President Cyril Ramaphosa this year.
"Together, we carry a responsibility to build, preserve and maintain peace in the world. The ANC stands ready to work with all peace-loving nations of the world to find lasting continental and global peace."
On Friday night, International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, called for calm in Iraq saying the South African government was 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".
In a statement, her department said the country recalled and reaffirmed the UN Security Council statement from December 13, 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”.
“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,” Pandor said.