Iran Daily: Rouhani Pushes Back v. Saudi Arabia

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pushed back against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, expressing wonder that the kingdom can show so much hostility towards neighbors and the region.

Rouhani (pictured) spoke after a Cabinet meeting, following warnings by Riyadh this week of “acts of war” by Iran, Hezbollah, and the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement that controls much of Yemen.

The President proclaimed Iran’s “power and position” and asserts that coutnries stronger than Saudi Arabia, such as the US and its allies, have failed to harm Iran. He warned Riyadh of a “strategic mistake and a miscalculation” to choose friendship with the US and Israel over good relations with Tehran.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were broken in January 2016, and the battle of rhetoric has sharpened since the spring, when Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — the leading forces in Saudi politics and foreign policy — said any war with the Islamic Republic would be inside Iran’s borders.

Last week, after an internal wave of arrests strengthening Mohammad bin Salman’s position, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned during his visit to Riyadh, collapsing a coalition government including Iran’s ally Hezbollah. Saudi officials then warned of a confrontation with Tehran and Hezbollah.

The Saudis also said that Iran was behind the firing of a missile on Riyadh by the Houthis, a claim denied by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as he wrote that the kingdom is “engaged in wars of aggression, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior & risky provocations”. Zarif followed up on Wednesday:

Rouhani defended the Houthi action in his Cabinet statement:

What reaction can the nation of Yemen show toward this amount of bombardment? They say that they should not use weapons? Well, you stop the bombs, and then see if you don’t get a positive reaction from the nation of Yemen.

Rejecting the Saudi allegations of Iran’s interference in other countries, the President emphasized that Iran is helping Iraq and Syria in the “fight against terrorism at the request of their own governments”.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

4 COMMENTS

    • Johnson was wrong in what he said and could well have to resign for the false statement and its consequences.

      Zaghari-Ratcliffe had not been involved since 2010 with BBC Media Action — which is not specifically “journalist training” but the use of media and communications “to help reduce poverty and support people to understand their rights” — and was in Iran with her daughter to see her parents. The Iranian judiciary is using Johnson’s blunder as a pretext for further harassment, intimidation, and possibly additional time as a political prisoner.

      • When I look at what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it.” — The bounder Boris, like a naughty spool-boy who never does his homework, was at pains to show the form masters who had called him to the carpet in a parliamentary committee that he had this time read and remembered something, anything from a briefing, and thus should not be caned fired, all while carelessly forgetting it’s the sort of detail one is not supposed to blurt out, as it contradicts the official cover-story, thus earning an unmerciful caning immediate firing.

        Another Pythonesque prat of great British pedigree, in live action farce to entertain the IRGC.
        It brings a tear of joy to mine eye …

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