Germany weighs in on US-Iran tension

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate in the background, in Berlin, Germany November 9, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Pool
German foreign minister Heiko Maas: 'We are very worried that instability in Iraq will surely increase without the international community's engagement against ISIS.' Photo: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

German foreign minister Heiko Maas has described Washington’s threat of “major retaliation” towards Iran as “not very helpful” in the current tense situation.

Speaking to German public radio (DLF), Maas expressed deep concern about the Iraqi parliament’s decision to expel US troops from the country in response to the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad last week. Trump vowed to hit Iraq with crippling sanctions in response.

“We are very worried that instability in Iraq will surely increase without the international community's engagement against ISIS," Maas told DLF. He said that without a US troop presence in Iraq, it would be difficult to keep German troops in the country.

READ MORE: Oil and gold spike on Trump and Iran tension escalation

Maas noted that a lot has been invested in rebuilding Iraq in the past few years, and all of this is now in danger of being lost. He added that persuasive arguments, not threats, are the only way to keep an open dialogue going with Iraq.

On Sunday, the leaders of the UK, Germany, and France issued a joint statement appealing for the US and Iran to exercise “utmost restraint.”

Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron, and Angela Merkel jointly stressed the “urgent need for de-escalation” and said years of work to stabilise Iraq are now under threat. They urged the Iraqi government to keep supporting the fight against ISIS in the region.

The three countries will meet on Monday to discuss Tehran’s announcement at the weekend that it would no longer honour the 2015 nuclear agreement. Trump tweeted on Saturday that the US has “targeted 52 Iranian sites ... and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

The escalating tension between the US and Iran caused investors to flock to oil and gold on Monday, with the oil price (CL=F; BZ=F) continuing to trade upwards of 2% to $70 per barrel over supply concerns.