Iran to present regional security plan at UNGA
23 September 2019
Iran will present a security plan for the Gulf at the United Nations General Assembly this week, said President Hassan Rouhani, even as he warned foreign forces to "stay away" from the region.
In a televised speech on Sunday marking the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, Rouhani said Iran extended its "hand of friendship and brotherhood" towards countries in the region willing to cooperate in the Tehran-led effort to oversee security in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz - a vital gateway for the global oil industry.
Ruhani’s warning comes after a recent decision by the United States to send more troops to the Gulf, following the attacks on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities.
Washington said it was preparing to send weapons and hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The US is also leading a maritime coalition, which includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UK and Australia, to secure the area's waterways and key oil trade routes.
"Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," said Rouhani, who will travel to New York City later this week for the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN.
But Rouhani's security initiative could come a cropper, especially the attack on Saudi oil assets by Iran-backed Houthi rebels
While Iran may pose as a regional strongman "uniquely qualified" to organise a regional security structure, other nations like Saudi Arabia may also have similar claims.
Rouhani wants foreign militaries that had earlier "brought devastation" to the countries of the region to extricate themselves from the Gulf.
Iran’s posture comes at a time when tensions in the region have reached new heights. The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the attacks on the Saudi Aramco plants,
While Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran has denied any involvement.
Saudi Arabia will seek to make a case at the UN General Assembly for concerted action to punish and deter Iran after the oil strikes.
Rouhani's speech was backed up by a military parade that marked the 39th anniversary of the start of the eight-year war with Iraq that began when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980.
Iran displayed the Khordad-3 air defence system that shot down a US drone in June. It also showed an Iranian medium-range missile that can travel up to 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) putting it in range of Iran's archrival Israel and US bases in the region.
Similar parades were held in major cities and towns across the country including the port city of Bandar Abbas near the Strait of Hormuz.
State TV showed scores of Iranian fast-attack boats, as well as air defence and other military equipment. It also carried images of Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval forces rappelling down the side of a sailing ship.
Meanwhile, world powers led by the United States have tightened sanctions on the Iranian economy and pledged to drive Iran's oil exports to zero.
The attacks in Saudi Arabia have deepened a crisis that has escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran and world powers.
In response, Tehran has gradually scaled back its nuclear commitments and rejected any talks unless all sanctions are lifted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said the United Kingdom will consider taking part in a US-led military effort to help Saudi Arabia's defences, as he accused Tehran of being behind this month's attacks on two major oil facilities in the kingdom.
The UK had previously held back from attributing blame for the 14 September attacks on the Saudi Aramco plants, responsibility for which was claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have been locked in a war with a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition since 2015.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have dismissed the Houthis' claim and say Iran was responsible for the attacks, a charge Tehran denies.