Arab leaders voice alarm at UN over Iran tensions

By AFP and Al-Mashareq


Iraqi President Barham Saleh during a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 22nd. In his address to the UN General Assembly September 23rd, Saleh voiced concern over 'anarchic' groups who have been launching rocket attacks against US interests in the country. [Jim Watson/AFP]

Arab leaders voiced fears Wednesday (September 23rd) before the UN of new conflict in the region in view of Iran's continued violations of UN resolutions and its expansionist activities.

The annual extravaganza of international diplomacy at the UN General Assembly has been turned into a virtual affair this year, with leaders sending in recorded speeches due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh hinted in his address at frustration in Iraq with "anarchic" groups, whose rocket fire on US forces had prompted a drone strike in January that killed Iran's most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani, as well as an Iraqi Shia paramilitary leader.

"Weapons must remain in the hands of Iraqi state institutions," Saleh said.

"We do not want Iraq to become a sort of playground for other forces that will kill each other on our territory," he said.

"We have witnessed enough wars and enough attacks on our sovereignty," he added.

Saleh also vowed to tackle rampant corruption, a key priority for Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi, who came to power after sweeping nationwide protests.

Saudis criticise Iran

Saudi Arabia's King Salman used his UN address to voice concern about Iran and pointed to drone attacks last year on the kingdom's oil fields, which Washington says were carried out by Tehran in violation of the arms embargo.

"The kingdom's hands were extended to Iran in peace with a positive and open attitude over the past decades, but to no avail," Salman said.

"The kingdom welcomed the international efforts to deal with Iran's nuclear programme, but time and again, the entire world witnessed how the Iranian regime exploited these efforts in order to intensify its expansionist activities," he said, accusing Iran of "terrorism".

US President Donald Trump has vowed to squeeze Iran, imposing sweeping economic sanctions and leaving a 2015 nuclear accord that was negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.

On Monday, Trump said he was enforcing UN sanctions for Iranian violations of an arms embargo.

Meanwhile, France seized on the UN General Assembly to drum up international support to form a government in Lebanon, which remains at an impasse nearly two months after a massive blast at the Beirut port.

But pro-Iran Shia militant groups Hizbullah and Amal are insisting on the finance ministry, a prize opposed by the US and Saudi Arabia.

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There is a case here. There exists a difference between the Iranian people as opposed to the fascist regime that has been ruling Iran by force of murder, aggression and terror. They recently slaughtered on the streets at least 1,500 individuals. This is in addition to the deaths during more than forty years of their reign, which has been entirely filled with murder, theft, and rape. Because of this regime, the Iranian people have paid a hefty price. Hence, they deserve a better government than the current one. They are entitled to be certain that, wherever the name of Iran is mentioned, a distinction is made between the fascist government of the Islamic Republic and the people of Iran. I do not consider this regime as an Iranian one. This regime is only pursuing its own interests … and it has ruled by coercion, murder, looting and rape. ... These people have never been the rulers of Iran. They were a bunch of thugs. There are documents showing the way in which they climbed to power on February 12 onward. The international community must deal with the Islamic Republic in such a way that the entire world can hear the sound of its bones being crushed. As an average Iranian, I call for imposing maximum sanctions against, and conducting military strike on, Iran.