Rouhani points fin­ger af­ter mass shoot­ing

Calgary Herald - - NP - Sara Wil­liamS

AM­MAN, JOR­DAN • Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard vowed “deadly and un­for­get­table” vengeance Sun­day for the mass shoot­ing at a mil­i­tary pa­rade as Iran’s pres­i­dent blamed U.S.-backed in­sur­gents for killing 25 peo­ple in a hail of bul­lets.

Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani ac­cused the U.S. of in­cit­ing an un­named ally in the Per­sian Gulf to carry out the at­tack Sat­ur­day in the south­west­ern city of Ah­vaz, in which four gun­men dis­guised in mil­i­tary garb opened fire and killed 12 Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards­men as well as a num­ber of spec­ta­tors.

“Amer­ica is act­ing like a bully to­wards the rest of the world … and thinks it can act based on brute force,” said Rouhani, whose coun­try is in the grips of a des­per­ate eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion brought on by sweep­ing U.S. sanc­tions.

“But our peo­ple will re­sist and the gov­ern­ment is ready to con­front Amer­ica. We will over­come this sit­u­a­tion and Amer­ica will re­gret choos­ing the wrong path.”

Rouhani is on a col­li­sion course with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, whose de­ci­sion to quit the 2015 nu­clear deal is, to Rouhani’s mind, di­rectly to blame for Iran’s fi­nan­cial cri­sis. The two lead­ers will at­tend the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly in New York next week, where each will ad­dress the world.

Nikki Ha­ley, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, brushed off the ac­cu­sa­tions from Tehran, say­ing of Rouhani: “The thing he has to do is look in the mir­ror.

“He’s got the Ira­nian peo­ple protest­ing. Ev­ery ounce of money goes into his mil­i­tary. He has op­pressed his peo­ple for a long time. I think the Ira­nian peo­ple have had enough.”

Sun­day morn­ing, Iran sum­moned diplo­mats from the U.K., the Nether­lands and Den­mark, ac­cus­ing them of har­bour­ing Ira­nian op­po­si­tion groups.

Rouhani then took to state tele­vi­sion, declar­ing it “ab­so­lutely clear to us who has done this, which group it is and to whom they are af­fil­i­ated,” with­out nam­ing the sus­pect.

“One of the coun­tries in the south of the Per­sian Gulf took care of their fi­nan­cial, weaponry and po­lit­i­cal needs.

“All th­ese lit­tle mer­ce­nary coun­tries we see in this re­gion are backed by Amer­ica. It is the Amer­i­cans who in­cite them,” he said.

Within the hour, Iran’s for­eign min­istry sum­moned the United Arab Emi­rates charge d’af­faires to re­buke him for com­ments made by an un­named Emi­rati of­fi­cial about the bloody fusil­lade at the pa­rade. The out­come of that meet­ing was un­known.

Shia Iran has long been locked in a strug­gle for re­gional dom­i­nance with U.S.-al­lied, ma­jor­ity Sunni, Saudi Ara­bia. The U.A.E. is a Saudi ally, and hosts a sig­nif­i­cant U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence.

Writ­ing in The Daily Tele­graph Sun­day, Prince Mo­hammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, Saudi Ara­bia’s am­bas­sador to the United King­dom, un­der­scored the vit­riol be­tween the two re­gional pow­ers.

“There is still time for a de­ter­mined in­ter­na­tional re­sponse that stops Iran from spread­ing its ma­lig­nant in­flu­ence to ev­ery cor­ner of the re­gion,” he writes.

Tehran has made no se­cret of its mount­ing fury at the U.S. over tight­en­ing sanc­tions, with Javad Zarif, the for­eign min­is­ter, tak­ing to Twit­ter on Fri­day to de­nounce “the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sense of en­ti­tle­ment to desta­bi­lize

the world along with rogue ac­com­plices in our re­gion.”


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