Iran’s president blames U.S. after attack on parade
Iran’s president on Sunday accused an unnamed U.S.-allied country in the Persian Gulf of being behind a terror attack on a military parade that killed 25 people and wounded 60, further raising regional tensions.
Hassan Rouhani’s comments came as Iran’s Foreign Ministry also summoned Western diplomats over them allegedly providing havens for the Arab separatists who claimed Saturday’s attacks in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.
The Iranian moves, as well as promises of revenge by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, come as the country already faces turmoil in the wake of the American withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The attack in Ahvaz, which saw women and children flee with uniformed soldiers bloodied, has further shaken the country.
Rouhani’s remarks could refer to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain — close U.S. military allies that view Iran as a regional menace over its support for militant groups across the Middle East.
“All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are backed by America. It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with necessary means to commit these crimes,” Rouhani said before leaving for the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Iran meanwhile summoned diplomats from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands early Sunday for allegedly harboring “members of the terrorist group” that launched the attack. Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen condemned the attack and stressed that there would be “consequences” if it turns out that those responsible have connections to Denmark.
The ministry later summoned the UAE’s envoy as well over what it called the “irresponsible and insulting statements” of an Emirati adviser, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. The UAE did not immediately acknowledge the summons.
Saturday’s attack, in which militants disguised as soldiers opened fire on an annual Iranian military parade in Ahvaz, was the deadliest attack in the country in nearly a decade. Women and children scattered along with once-marching Revolutionary Guard soldiers as heavy gunfire rang out, the chaos captured live on state television.
The region’s Arab separatists, once only known for nighttime attacks on unguarded oil pipelines, claimed responsibility for the assault, and Iranian officials appeared to believe the claim. The separatists accuse Iran’s Persian-dominated government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority. Khuzestan province also has seen recent protests over Iran’s nationwide drought, as well as economic protests.
The attack killed at least 25 people and wounded 60, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. It said gunmen wore military uniforms and targeted a riser where military and police commanders were sitting. State TV hours later reported that all four gunmen had been killed.
At least eight of the dead served in the Revolutionary Guard, an elite paramilitary unit that answers only to Iran’s supreme leader, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. The Guard responded to the attack on Sunday, warning it would seek “deadly and unforgiving revenge in the near future.”
Tensions have been on the rise in Iran since the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran in May and began restoring sanctions that were eased under the deal.
“All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are backed by America. It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with necessary means to commit these crimes,” Hassan Rouhani said.