In the aftermath of armed attacks by both the US and Iran, WCC reiterates its call for restraint and de-escalation of the confrontation.
“Further escalation and conflict between the United States and Iran can only serve short-term political interests, while threatening the permanent destruction of many lives, communities and precious cultural and environmental heritage,” said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “I appeal to political leaders on all sides of this confrontation to put the interests of the people of the region ahead of their own interests, and to seek peace through dialogue and negotiation rather than confrontation.”
On 3 January, the WCC urged “maximum restraint” following the US air strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most prominent military commander, at Baghdad airport in Iraq. Iranian missile attacks on bases in Iraq housing US and other international military personnel in the early morning of 8 January apparently resulted in no casualties and minimal damage. Shortly after the missile attacks Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif stated that Iran has “concluded proportionate measures in self-defense” and that “we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” President Trump has acknowledged that Iran “appears to be standing down.”
“The Middle East has suffered so much conflict and bloodshed for so long,” observed WCC director for international affairs Peter Prove. “Armed attacks and military confrontation serve to perpetuate a never-ending cycle of continuous war in the region. We urge US and Iranian leaders to refrain from any measures that might risk further escalation, and to choose peace instead.”
“I call on WCC member churches around the world to join in prayers for peace,” added Tveit, “and pray that the leaders of these nations will be guided into and follow the way of peace.”