Iraqis are fearful about the continued use of their territory as a battleground, especially between the U.S. and Iran, says Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis, who serves the faithful in the fractious northern city of Kirkuk. He says Iraqis would like to see the U.S. and Iran stop their war of words as well as missiles, and begin a dialogue.
"Maybe it can stop here — the revenge," Mirkis said. "The revenge was in all the speeches of yesterday. Those five days were very excited about revenge. Now, that it is done, let us go to negotiate. We have enough of wars. Since I am born, I see only wars, rebellion, revenge. Without peace. These completely destroyed our country."
Mirkis says Iraqis want political and military leaders to listen to ordinary people's demands to address their country's severe unemployment and infrastructural problems and end action that divides Iraqis along sectarian and ethnic lines.
He and others point out that military action taken by Iran and the U.S. in recent days on Iraqi soil further destabilizes an already fragile country reeling from Islamic State militant occupation and sectarian conflict. Protesters at recent demonstrations in Baghdad and in the south, which he calls manifestations, were demanding the end of pervasive Iranian influence in the country.
"We are fed up with all kinds of troubles and war," Mirkis said. "We don't want this anymore. Especially, the manifestations in Baghdad are telling those who are with Iran or with America: 'Let us live in peace!'"
Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, is also appealing for a de-escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington. He says the discord threatens humanitarian services to millions of people across the Middle East.
Tens of millions of people in the region need vital aid, as most are "already devastated or displaced by conflict," Egeland said in a statement. "Another confrontation among international and regional powers would be deadly for aid lifelines on the brink of collapse."
Egeland urged the "de-escalation of this confrontation and direct talks among diplomats to find solutions," adding, "Do not make a difficult situation impossible."