UPDATE 1900 GMT: Rouhani has pressed the Iranian case on Iraq and Syria, speaking to an American audience via CNN:
[The Islamic State] is a common threat for all of us. And this requires a unison effort from all of us.
We need a vast campaign of operations….The aerial bombardment campaign is mostly, I would say, a form of theater, rather than a serious battle against terrorism.
President Rouhani receives a much warmer reception on his trips to New York than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — after all, he does not repeat the denial of the Holocaust, blame of the US Government for 9-11, or claim that there are no gays and lesbians in Iran — but his Thursday address to the UN General Assembly was more challenging than any declaration made by Ahmadinejad in the forum.
The essence of Rouhani’s speech, behind his engaging demeanour, was this: accept Iran’s terms for inclusion in any “coalition” in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State, or face Tehran’s opposition and challenge to US leadership.
The President offered a refrain of Ahmadinejad’s denunciation that “anti-Westernism” is “the offspring of yesterday’s colonialism” and “a reaction to yesterday’s racism”, as he condemned the US and its allies for today’s “terrorism”:
Certain states have helped create it and are now failing to withstand it….Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen, who now spare no one. All those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups must acknowledge their errors that have led to extremism.
Rouhani then manoeuvred Iran’s immediate concerns into the denunciation:
The strategic blunders of the West in the Middle-East, Central Asia, and the Caucuses have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists. Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East.
So who can right these Western wrongs? The President was far from subtle:
Let’s recall that Iran had invited everyone to “dialogue” before the criminal act of September 11th, and also called for “a world against violence and extremism” before the outbreak of the current violent atrocities….
Last year I warned against the expansion of violence and extremism. This year too I warn that if the right approach is not undertaken in dealing with the issue at hand, we get closer to a turbulent and tumultuous region with repercussions for the whole world.
Rouhani was careful not to put out Iran’s specific demands, but they were already evident, both in signalling from Tehran and in discussions this week in New York — including the President’s encounters with French counterpart Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Islamic Republic is telling the US and its allies: drop any support for Syria’s opposition and insurgency. Then Tehran can work with you — not under your command, but alongside you — in the effort in Iraq against the Islamic State.
The President’s speech added this warning, even as he concluded, “I wish you all success”: If you reject this offer, you will fail.
President Obama and friends, your move.
Iranian Nuclear Negotiator: Talks at “Breathtaking Point”, But No Progress
Iran’s lead negotiator in the nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers has said that discussions in New York are at a critical stage.
“The nuclear negotiations have reached a breathtaking point and both sides have entered into many details,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Friday.
However, Araqchi said that the two sides — seeking a comprehensive agreement before a November 24 deadline — are still divided over “key issues” and that there has been “no concrete progress”.
He maintained that the Iranian negotiating team will continue to insist on its “red line” of recognition of Iran’s pursuit of a peaceful nuclear program: “We will by no means leave the negotiating table, but will not retreat an iota from Iran’s rights either.”
Araqchi’s remarks followed a discussion between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the European Union’s Catherine Ashton on Thursday.
Military Resumes Attacks on US as Supporter of “Terrorist Groups”
The Iranian military has ended its short pause in the rhetorical war on the US as the supporter of “terrorism”.
The military had eased its weeks of condemnation as President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif pursued diplomacy in New York, but the commander of ground forces, General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, resumed the attack on Friday.
“The United States and other powers have put proxy wars on their agenda and terrorist groups are fighting on their behalf in the region,” Pourdastan said.
The general said that the Islamic Republic, as a “superpower” in the Middle East, would not be caught off guard by enemy moves.