Yousaf calls for ‘cool heads’ to prevent escalation in Middle East

It is a “tragedy” that there does not seem to be the “coolest of heads” in the Middle East to prevent further escalation, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

Humza Yousaf and the Scottish Government has been among the voices calling for de-escalation in the region following the thwarted Iranian attack on Israel to prevent a wider war.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is also expected to urge restraint when he speaks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, while the Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron pushed them to be “smart as well as tough” by not escalating the conflict.

Rishi Sunak
The Prime Minister is expected to urge restraint in a conversation with his opposite number in Israel on Tuesday (Benjamin Cremel/PA)

“I am joining a number of voices now who are calling for regional de-escalation and we need that,” he told BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday.

“Any regional escalation has been condemned by the Scottish Government, whether that was a strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria or indeed the attack from Iran over the weekend.

“We don’t want to see any regional escalation and therefore we need cool heads – and I think that’s the tragedy, at a time where we need the coolest of heads, I’m afraid we don’t seem to have that.”

The First Minister reiterated his position that the solution to peace in the Middle East will not be a military one, but as a result of “dialogue and political negotiation and discussion”.

Asked if he still felt the same following the attack at the weekend, the First Minister said: “Israel has one of the most sophisticated militaries and weaponry in the entire world.

“But it also doesn’t stop, for example, allies as we saw over the course of the  weekend – the UK, the US, using their own military capability to help in defence.

“That is very different to an offensive operation, for example, that we’ve seen in Gaza that has killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”

The First Minister, he said, had still not received a briefing from the UK Government on British involvement in defending Israel at the weekend, after the Prime Minster said a number of RAF jets were deployed.

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