Monday, 14 October 2019

Iran asks West to leave Persian Gulf as tensions heightened

TEHRAN: Iran’s president called on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran, criticizing a new U.S.-led coalition patrolling the region’s waterways as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic’s military arsenal.

President Hassan Rouhani separately promised to unveil a regional peace plan at this week’s upcoming high-level meetings at the United Nations, which comes amid heightened Mideast tensions following a series of attacks, including a missile-and-drone assault on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.

The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on the world’s largest oil processor in the kingdom and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. While Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia says it was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

For its part, Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an “all-out war.” That’s as it has begun enriching uranium beyond the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from over a year earlier.

Rouhani spoke from a riser at the parade in Tehran, with uniformed officers from the country’s military and its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard beside him. The cleric later watched as goose-stepping soldiers carrying submachine guns and portable missile launchers drove past as part of “Holy Defense Week,” which marks the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980.

Rouhani said Iran was willing to “extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood” to Persian Gulf nations and was “even ready to forgive their past mistakes.”

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