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Iran Asks West to Leave Persian Gulf   09/22 08:45

   Iran's president called Sunday 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.

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's president called Sunday 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."

   "Those who want to link the region's incidents to the Islamic Republic of 
Iran are lying like their past lies that have been revealed," the president 
said. "If they are truthful and really seek security in the region, they must 
not send weapons, fighter jets, bombs and dangerous arms to the region."

   Rouhani added that the U.S. and Western nations should "distance" themselves 
from the region.

   "Your presence has always been a calamity for this region and the farther 
you go from our region and our nations, the more security would come for our 
region," he said.

   He said Iran's plan would focus on providing security in the Persian Gulf, 
the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman "with help from regional countries." 
Iran has boosted its naval cooperation with China, India, Oman, Pakistan, and 
Russia in recent years.

   The U.S. maintains defense agreements across the Persian Gulf with allied 
Arab nations and has tens of thousands of troops stationed in the region. Since 
1980, it has viewed the region as crucial to its national security, given its 
energy exports. A fifth of all oil traded passes through the Strait of Hormuz, 
the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf. The U.S. plans to send additional troops 
to the region over the tensions.

   The parades and maneuvers Sunday appeared aimed at projecting Iranian 
strength with naval vessels, submarines and armed speedboats swarmed across the 
Persian Gulf and troops showed off land-to-sea missiles capable of targeting 
the U.S. Navy. Commandos fast-roped down onto the deck of a ship, resembling 
Iran's July seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.

   Iranian ship seizures, as well as oil tanker explosions that the U.S. blames 
on Iran, saw America create a new coalition to protect Mideast waters. So far, 
Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab 
Emirates have agreed to join it.

   Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani called the U.S-led coalition a "a 
new means for plundering the region," according to Iran's semi-official Tasnim 
news agency.

   "We regard the emergence of such coalitions as the start of a new game to 
make the region insecure," Larijani said, according to Tasnim.

   Iran separately displayed its Khordad-3 surface-to-air missile that downed a 
U.S. military surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz in June.

   Sunday also marked the one-year anniversary of an attack on a military 
parade in Ahvaz that killed 25 people. Both separatists and the Islamic State 
group claimed responsibility for the assault, while Iran blamed Saudi Arabia 
and the UAE for allegedly supporting the attackers. Both nations denied the 
claim, though a propaganda video published by a semi-official news agency in 
Iran close to the Guard later circulated threatening them with missile attacks.


(KR)

 
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