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Iran accuses foreign forces of raising Gulf 'insecurity'

September 22, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has sharply criticized the presence of foreign troops in the Gulf after the US deployed more soldiers to the Middle East. He also vowed to present a peace plan for the volatile region.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that his country should lead regional security in the strategic Persian Gulf and denounced the presence of foreign troops there. "Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," he said in a televised speech at an annual military parade.  

His statement comes after the United States ordered the deployment of additional troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions following a series of attacks on the oil-rich region's energy infrastructure.

Read more: Why Trump shouldn't run the North Korea playbook on Iran

Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of carrying out the attacks on Saudi oil facilities on September 14, in what was the largest-ever assault on oil facilities of the world's top oil exporter. Iran has denied involvement in the attack, which was claimed by Yemen's Houthi movement, a group aligned with Iran and currently fighting a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen's civil war.

Saudi Arabia has called the strikes on Abqaiq and Khurais facilities a test of global will to preserve international order, and will look to form a united front at the United Nations General Assembly.

A peace plan?

"We are not someone who will violate the borders of others just as we will not allow anyone to violate our borders," Rouhani said. The Iranian president's comments come a day after the chief of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, General Hossein Salami, threatened the "destruction of any aggressor."

Read more: Iranians 'stuck in a vicious cycle' over US tensions

Rouhani also said he would present a peace plan to the United Nations in the coming days.

"In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbors that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them," he said.

The Iranian leader is expected to travel to New York on Monday, a day before the start of the United Nations General Assembly.

In Tehran, Sunday's military parade marked the 39th anniversary of the eight-year war with Iraq that began when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. Similar parades were held in many major cities and towns across the country. State TV showed long-range missiles, speed boats and warships as part of the ceremonies commemorating the anniversary of the war with Iraq.

Pressure tactics

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been on the rise since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear deal and later began reimposing unilateral sanctions in a campaign of "maximum pressure."

In response, Iran has started reducing its commitments to the nuclear deal. The US then deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the strategic waterways near Iran, before sending B-52 bombers, an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery.

The United States is also leading a maritime coalition, which includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UK and Australia, to secure the area's waterways and vital oil trade routes.

sri/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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