Iran’s armed forces are the best defense against “terror” in the Middle East, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, urging regional countries not to rely on world powers.
“Today, the largest power against intimidation and terror is our armed forces,” Rouhani said at a massive military parade in Tehran.
Iran has played a major role in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization in neighboring Iraq independently of the US-led coalition. It has provided military advisors, weapons and trainers to both the Iraqi army and numerous terror groups – including Hezbollah and Hamas.
But Rouhani’s allusion was not only to the jihadists of ISIS. In the conflict in Syria, Tehran has been a staunch ally of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against Western-backed rebels as well as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
“We helped the armies and governments of Iraq and Syria, at their request,” Rouhani said. “If terrorists start showing up in other regional countries, their only hope is Iran’s army, the Revolutionary Guards, and the Basij (militia).”
“They shouldn’t think that Western or world powers would defend them,” he added.
The parade marked the 35th anniversary of the start of Iran’s devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Rouhani’s speech was screened live on state television.
Iran has been deeply critical of the US-led campaign against ISIS, charging that it was the support of the West and its allies for the rebellion in Syria that paved the way for the rise of the jihadists.
But Rouhani’s remarks also are yet another statement condemning the West despite the landmark nuclear deal reached in July – one which the West insists will prevent further war in the Middle East in spite of Iran’s deep involvement in regional conflict.
Rouhani has publicly mocked this deal on multiple occasions in recent months, and has so far threatened war if the Iran nuclear deal fails – as well as vowing to flout the part of the UN resolution that adopted the nuclear deal in which Iran is required not to test long-range ballistic missiles that can be used to carry a nuclear payload.
In addition, the Islamic Republic has still termed the US “the Great Satan,” and Rouhani has personally presided over such chants – but recently insisted to American news outlets that the chants shouldn’t be taken seriously.