Iranian president blames US for provoking ‘puppet countries’ after parade attack

US will regret its ‘aggressiveness’ says Rouhani after 25 people died in Ahvaz

A  member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) carrying an injured child at the scene of an attack on a military parade. Photograph: Behrad Ghasemi/AFP

A member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) carrying an injured child at the scene of an attack on a military parade. Photograph: Behrad Ghasemi/AFP

 

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday the United States wants to create insecurity in the Islamic Republic, a day after an attack on a military parade that killed 12 members of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

Speaking before leaving Tehran to attend the UN General Assembly in New York, Mr Rouhani accused US-backed Gulf Arab states of providing financial and military support for anti-government ethnic Arab groups.

“The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the United States is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities,” said Mr Rouhani. The attack, which killed 25 people, was one of the worst ever against the Guards and is bound to ratchet up tensions with Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia.

“Iran’s answer (to this attack) is forthcoming within the framework of law and our national interests,” said Mr Rouhani, adding that the United States will regret its “aggressiveness”.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenarah/EPA
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenarah/EPA

Sanctions

US president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Saturday said that US sanctions on Iran are leading to economic pain that could lead to a “successful revolution,” contrasting with administration comments that government change in Tehran is not US policy.

“I don’t know when we’re going to overthrow them,” said Mr Giuliani, who spoke in his own capacity though he is a Trump ally, at an Iran Uprising Summit held by the Organisation of Iranian-American Communities, which opposes Tehran’s government.

“It could be in a few days, months, a couple of years. But it’s going to happen,” Mr Giuliani told a crowd at a hotel in Times Square.

Mr Trump ripped up a global deal on Iran’s nuclear program in May and his administration is snapping back sanctions on the Islamic Republic, including measures on its oil exports from November 4th. The Trump administration hopes the sanctions will force

Iran not only to curb its nuclear program but also halt militancy in the Middle East.

Diplomats summoned

Iran has summoned diplomats from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands over allegedly harbouring members of a terrorist group that launched an attack on a military parade in the country’s south-west.

The country’s Foreign Ministry also criticised Britain over a Saudi-linked, Farsi-language satellite channel immediately airing an interview with an Ahvazi separatist claiming responsibility.

Women and children scattered along with the Revolutionary Guard soldiers as heavy gunfire rang out Saturday at the parade and the chaos captured live on state television.

The region’s Arab separatists, once only known for nighttime attacks on unguarded oil pipelines, claimed responsibility for the brazen assault and Iranian officials appeared to believe the claim.

Iran has blamed its Mideast arch-rival, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for funding Arab separatists’ activity.

State media in Saudi Arabia did not immediately acknowledge the attack, though a Saudi-linked, Farsi-language satellite channel based in the United Kingdom immediately carried an interview with an Ahvazi activist claiming Saturday’s attack.

Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the UK, called the channel’s decision a “heinous act” in a post on Twitter and said his country would file a complaint with British authorities over the broadcast.

On Sunday a Foreign Ministry statement quoting spokesman Bahram Qasemi similarly criticised Britain and said Danish and Dutch diplomats were told Iran “already warned” their governments about harbouring Arab separatists.

Meanwhile Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed regional countries and their “US masters” for funding and arming the separatists, issuing a stark warning as regional tensions remain high in the wake of the US withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.

The attack came as rows of Revolutionary Guardsmen marched down Ahvaz’s Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard.

It was one of many around the country marking the start of Iran’s long 1980s war with Iraq, commemorations known as the “Sacred Defence Week”.

A woman takes her children to shelter as an army member tries to help them, during the shooting. Photograph: Fatemeh Rahimavian/AP
A woman takes her children to shelter as an army member tries to help them, during the shooting. Photograph: Fatemeh Rahimavian/AP

Journalists and onlookers turned to look toward the first shots, then the rows of marchers broke as soldiers and civilians sought cover under sustained gunfire.

Iranian soldiers used their bodies at time to shield civilians in the melee, with one Guardsman in full dress uniform and sash carrying away a bloodied boy.

In the aftermath, paramedics tended to the wounded as soldiers, some bloodied, helped their comrades to ambulances.

At least eight of the dead served in the Revolutionary Guard, an elite paramilitary unit that answers only to Iran’s supreme leader, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

State TV hours later reported that all four gunmen had been killed, with three dying during the attack and one later succumbing to his wounds at a hospital. – Reuters/AP