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President Hassan Rouhani says international forces should stay away to de-escalate regional crisis

Iran has accused foreign powers of raising Gulfs insecurity.

President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday denounced the presence of international powers in the Gulf, adding that Iran would propose a peace plan, after the US ordered reinforcements to the region.

Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region, Rouhani said during a speech at an annual military parade.

In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbours that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them, he added.

Tensions between Iran on one hand, and the US and its allies on the other, have threatened to boil over since May last year when US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal before reimposing sanctions as part of the maximum pressure foreign policy.

The tensions escalated in the wake of the devastating 14 September attacks on Saudi oil facilities that Washington and Riyadh have, to varying degrees, blamed on Tehran.

After the attacks, which caused global oil prices to spike, Trump initially raised the possibility of a military response, tweeting that the US was locked and loaded.

Washington later expanded its long list of sanctions against Tehran by further targeting its central bank, as Trump indicated he did not plan to strike back.


How the Iran crisis unfolded

Reformist-backed cleric Hassan Rouhani wins presidential election, defeating conservative Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

Iran signs the joint comprehensive plan of action with the US, UK, China, Russia, France, Germany and the EU after years of negotiations. The deal limits Iranian nuclear activity in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. Crucially, the deal gives UN nuclear inspectors access to suspected Iranian sites.

International economic sanctions on Iran are lifted after the UN says it is satisfied with Tehrans adherence to the nuclear deal.

Hassan Rouhani re-elected in a landslide.

US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdraws the US from the 2015 nuclear deal, despite broad agreement that Tehran has largely adhered to its conditions. In response, Iran warns it will restart lifting uranium enrichment capacity.

An Iranian supertaker suspected of carrying oil to Syria (in breach of sanctions) is seized by UK marines and local police off the coast of Gibraltar. Spain says the seizure of the vessel – believed to be carrying 2m barrels of oil – was made at the request of the US.

US announces it is putting together a coalition of countries to patrol the Strait of Hormuz. “We are going to keep it open, secretary of state Mike Pompeo says. Countries from all across the world who have a vested interest in keeping those waterways open will participate.

Trump claims USS Boxer shot down an Iranian drone that came within 1,000 yards of the ship in the Strait of Hormuz and ignored multiple calls to stand down. Tehran denies Trumps assertion, saying the US might have shot down their own unmanned aerial system by mistake.

Irans Revolutionary Guards seize two oil tankers – the British-flagged Stena Impero and the Liberian-flagged Mesdar in the Strait of Hormuz, alleging infringement of maritime regulations. The seizures are widely seen as retaliatory.

Australia announces it will join the US-led coalition patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, promising a modest, meaningful and time-limited contribution. France, Germany have declined to contribute. The only other countries to join are the UK and Bahrain.

On Friday, US defence secretary, Mark Esper, said Washington was sending reinforcements to Saudi Arabia at the kingdoms request, while noting the forces would be defensive in nature, focusing on air and missile defence.

During his speech delivered before a massive military parade, Rouhani called on the foreign powers currently in the Gulf to stay away.

If theyre sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race, he added.

Your presence has always brought pain and misery… The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be.

We are even ready to ignore their past mistakes… since today the situation is such that the enemies of Islam and the region meaning America and Zionism want to abuse the rift between us, said Rouhani.

The annual military parade marks the start of the week commemorating Irans 1980-1988 war with Iraq known as the sacred defence.

Rouhani is expected to travel to New York on Monday, a day before general debate kicks off at the UN general assembly.

Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is subject to US sanctions, has already arrived in New York.

Tensions have flared in the Gulf since May, when Iran began reducing its commitments to the nuclear deal and the US said it was sending forces to nearby waters in response to what it called indications of a credible threat from Tehrans forces.

The US deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the sensitive waterways, before sending B-52 bombers, an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery.

Following the deployments, commercial ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized in Gulf waters.

In June Trump authorised a military strike after Iran shot down a US drone, only to call off the retaliation at the last moment.

The regional crisis deepened with the 14 September attacks on Saudi energy giant Aramcos Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oilfield, which halved the kingdoms oil output.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility, but the US said it had concluded the attacks involved cruise missiles from Iran and denounced them as an act of war.

Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a five-year war in Yemen, has warned of appropriate measures once the source of the strikes is confirmed by a UN investigation.

A Houthi plan for a cessation of hostilities announced on Friday has been welcomed by the UN, but Saudi Arabia was sceptical, saying it would judge other parties by their deeds.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/22/iran-warns-presence-of-foreign-powers-in-gulf-raises-insecurity