We are gravely concerned about the situation in Iraq. We are in regular touch with our people in Iraq and ask you to please pray for Iraq today.

The assassination of an Iranian military leader near Baghdad airport in Iraq early yesterday morning has massively escalated the risk of a major confrontation between Iran and the US. This could be on Iraqi soil. 

Mike Simpson, our CEO, was interviewed on the radio yesterday and again this morning, to talk about the impact of the US attack. You can listen to the first interview on Soundcloud here

The situation is complex (it always is in Iraq!). For months there have been political protests in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. These are against Iranian influence as well as against corruption and employment. Hundreds of these protestors have been killed by various forces and many have blamed Iranian-backed militias.

An armed security guard on the roof of St George’s in Baghdad in 2018

Recently the US launched strikes against Iranian backed militias (BBC) in both Syria and Iraq, following an attack on an Iraqi military base which killed an American civilian contractor. 

Then pro-Iranian protestors, outraged by those strikes, attacked the US embassy (USA Today) in the so-called ‘Green Zone’ in Baghdad, which is normally a safe area.

On 3rd January 2020 the US killed Iran’s Gen Qasem Soleimani and a prominent pro-Iranian Iraqi General Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. US drones fired missiles at their cars travelling from Baghdad airport. 

Our staff on the ground

Our lead officer in the north of Iraq gave his response on Friday. He said, “Here in the Kurdistan Region and the whole north, the situation is difficult; some people predict the worst and some are hopeful about the aftermath of the confrontation. For me as a FRRME staff member, further escalation will negatively impact on our movement and operations on the ground.

We are working in the multi-ethnic communities in the Nineveh plain. This step could contribute to further segregation of those communities. Like always, there are hopes and fears in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the whole of the North. Much depends on the next movement by Iran and if they use the Iraqi soil to retaliate the American’s action.

International reaction

The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “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.” 

In his Friday sermon, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite authority, condemned the US strike that killed Iran’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraq’s Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. He said, the attack is a “blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a violation of international conventions“. He also called on relevant authorities to exercise control to prevent a dangerous escalation in the wake of the killings.

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has condemned US “aggression“. 

The US Embassy in Baghdad has urged its citizens to ‘depart Iraq immediately’.

US President Trump said that his actions were designed “to stop a war, not start a war”.

St George’s in Baghdad

We are concerned about the safety of all who worship at or receive medical support from St George’s in Baghdad, which we fund through the Anglican Diocese. We are of course in regular contact with them. We spoke to Rev Faez Jirjees on Friday morning and we will post any updates on our Facebook page. Please hold them in your prayers.

A Bible on the lectern at St George’s Church in Baghdad

In all our activities FRRME acts as a peace-maker and we do not take sides for that reason. All we can do in this situation, with such powerful global forces at work, is to ask for your prayers. There is a higher authority. We believe in the sovereign power of our Lord Jesus Christ and in His words, “Blessed are the peace-makers for they shall be called sons of God”.

Please pray for Iraq and help us to give hope to the people there

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