Iraq and Syria crisis: Iran's President Rouhani accuses West of turning Middle East into 'haven for terrorists'

He added the terrorists followed an ideology of "violence and extremism"

David Usborne
Friday 26 September 2014 08:05
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking at the  69th United Nations General Assembly
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking at the 69th United Nations General Assembly

President Hassan Rouhani delivered a searing indictment of western governments in a speech in New York saying they were responsible for sowing the seeds of the outbreak of extremism that has brought turmoil to the Middle East and demanded that they “acknowledge their errors” and apologise.

“Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen, who now spare no one,” Mr. Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly. “Currently our peoples are paying the price. Today’s anti-Westernism is the offspring of yesterday's colonialism. Today's anti-Westemism is a reaction to yesterday’s racism.”

“The strategic blunders of the West in the Middle-East, Central Asia, and the Caucuses have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists,’ President Rouhani declared. “Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East.”

The Iranian leader, who had a first historic meeting with David Cameron in New York earlier this week, openly suggested that flexibility by the West in the ongoing talks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and a deal before a deadline set for November would open the way to Iran cooperating more fully in trying to confront the threat raised by the extremist groups. He made direct reference in the speech to both al-Qa’ida and Daesh, the Arab name for Isis.

If a nuclear agreement is struck, he said, “then an entirely different environment will emerge for cooperation at regional and international levels, allowing for greater focus on some very important regional issues such as combating violence and extremism in the region.”

But he also voiced disdain for those groups. “They also have a single goal: “the destruction of civilization, giving rise to Islamophobia and creating a fertile ground for further intervention of foreign forces in our region,” he said, insisting that its leaders were not followers of Islam and scolding the western media for repeatedly describing them so. “I am struck that these murderous groups call themselves Islamic,” he said.

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