Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Muslims worldwide on Saturday to unite against the United States, instead of “rolling out red carpets for criminals”.
Washington in May reimposed sanctions on Tehran, after President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran under which they had been lifted.
“Submitting to the West headed by America would be treason against our religion … and against the future generations of this region,” Rouhani told an international conference on Islamic unity in Tehran, in a speech broadcast live on state television.
“We have a choice to either roll out red carpets for criminals, or to forcefully stand against injustice and remain faithful to our Prophet, our Koran and our Islam,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which have close ties to Washington.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals and have supported opposing sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen and different political factions in Iraq and Lebanon.
“We are ready to defend the interests of the Saudi people against terrorism, aggression and the superpowers… and we don’t ask for $450 billion to do it,” Rouhani said, referring to Saudi Arabia’s contracts with the United States.
He also called Israel a “cancerous tumour” established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East.
Iran’s leaders frequently condemn Israel and predict its demise, but Rouhani rarely employs such rhetoric.
Addressing an annual Islamic Unity Conference on Saturday, Rouhani said “one of the ominous results of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region”.
He went on to refer to Israel as a “fake regime” set up by Western countries.
Iran supports groups like Hezbollah and Hamas that have pledged to fight Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Iran warned it would hit US and Israeli targets if it were attacked by the US after President Donald Trump’s security adviser said Washington would exert maximum pressure on Tehran going beyond economic sanctions. Israel views Iran as an existential threat.
Rouhani said the US cultivates close ties with “regional Muslim nations” to protect Israel, an apparent reference to Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s Sunni Arab allies.
He said bowing to US pressure amounts to “treason”.
“We have a choice to either roll out red carpets for criminals, or to forcefully stand against injustice and remain faithful to our Prophet, our Quran and our Islam,” Rouhani said.
Earlier in November, the US reimposed sanctions against Iran, cutting its energy exports and its banking industry.
Rouhani also said that Iran was prepared to defend Saudi Arabia from “terrorism and superpowers”.
“We do consider you as a brother,” he said. “We do consider the people of Mecca and Medina our brothers,” he added, referring to Islam’s two holiest cities, in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran nearly three years ago after Iranian protesters stormed its diplomatic posts in Iran in response the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shia Muslim leader, Nimr al-Nimr.
The two countries support opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
November 24th, 2018