‘UK should examine its own destructive past actions in the Middle East instead of attacking Iran!’

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Students storm the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 ending the imperialist domination of Iran
Students storm the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 ending the imperialist domination of Iran

IRAN’S Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi says the United Kingdom needs to take a retrospective look at its past destructive actions in the Middle East, instead of accusing Iran of sabotage in the region.

Speaking at the annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain’s capital Manama on December 7, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain would help the GCC states ‘push back’ against what she claimed to be Iran’s ‘aggressive regional actions’.

Qassemi reacted to the remarks in his press briefing on Monday, saying: ‘These countries, which broach such claims, can place a mirror in front of themselves to see their past in it and then decide what countries are responsible for the region’s current grave situation.’

Such remarks will have no impact on the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy, he said, adding that the country’s policy vis-à-vis the region is clear and there is no need for concealment. The concerns some mention are nothing but ‘chimera’ shaped by the status quo, the official noted.

‘It is only natural that they should repeat such claims given the defeats suffered in the region by some regional and extra-regional powers,’ he added. These comments are mere propaganda and are part of the blame game played by these countries, he asserted.

The spokesperson further referred to a directive by President Hassan Rouhani to the Foreign Ministry and the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) to take certain countermeasures against the US extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another ten years and said the relevant bodies have begun their work on the issue.

The US Congress recently voted to renew Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another decade, in violation of a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers. Under the nuclear deal, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear programme in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

The Iranian chief executive has ordered the Foreign Ministry to act on the provisions in the deal, which address a potential breach of the accord, and also to counter the congressional move through available legal and international channels.

Qassemi also said that Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had contacted US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the issue with him and deliver Tehran’s relevant warnings to Washington.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani lashed out at the western states for supporting the human rights violations and war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia against the innocent Yemeni people.

‘Despite committing all these crimes in Yemen against women, men, the elderly and the youth and embarking on acts which are considered as war crimes based on the international norms, Saudi Arabia is supported by the West,’ Amoli Larijani said, addressing high-ranking judiciary officials in Tehran on Monday.

‘Therefore, we should say that human rights is today an instrument to pressure the independent and right-seeking countries,’ he added. Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 12,800 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Houthi Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures. According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster.

In relevant remarks, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi underlined the necessity for Saudi Arabia to halt the military attacks against Yemen, and said Tehran supports talks among Yemeni groups on the settlement of crisis in the war-torn country.

He stressed that Iran has clear stances on Yemen, and said: ‘We think that foreign interference and aggression has turned the situation in Yemen into its complicated form and situation today.’

Revelations in the UK media on Monday confirmed that UK defence secretary Michael Fallon is aware that UK-manufactured, internationally banned cluster bombs have been used by the Saudi Arabi-led coalition against Yemen. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have on various occasions reported the use of cluster bombs by Riyadh in Yemen.

In May, Amnesty provided evidence showing that British-made cluster bombs had been used by Saudis against civilians in Yemen. The UK is a signatory to a 2010 international treaty banning the use of cluster munitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions commits Britain to disposing of all cluster munitions and working to prevent their use by anyone else.

Cluster bombs, which can contain hundreds of bomblets, pose risks to civilians both during and after attacks. Unexploded bomblets can claim lives long after a conflict is over. Earlier this month, Yemen’s new Prime Minister Abdulaziz bin Habtoor accused Britain of committing war crimes.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has denied reports over the US limiting its military support to the kingdom over its war on Yemen, adding that Riyadh is actually waiting for smart bombs.

During a joint press conference with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday, Jubeir stressed that the kingdom had not officially been informed of such a decision, which he referred to as a contradiction to reality.

Last week, reports surfaced over Washington deciding to curb support for Saudi Arabia’s military, including the suspension of the supply of some precision-guided munitions, over concerns of the widespread civilian casualties.

At least 11,400 people have died as the result of the Saudi campaign in the kingdom’s impoverished neighbour since March 2015, according to the latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group. Jubeir said: ‘This is a media news. The kingdom has received nothing official from the American government in this regard.

‘This news that has been leaked contradicts reality. The reality is that converting regular bombs to smart bombs would be welcome because smart bombs are more accurate.’

His US counterpart Kerry also downplayed the reports of delays in US arms supplies to the kingdom, stressing that he was working hard to push arms sales ‘forward’. Several international rights groups have urged the US to halt weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, regarding it to be a complicit in the large number of civilian deaths in Yemen if it fails to do so.

Kerry added that he had agreed to talks with the Saudis and other Persian Gulf states to push for a ‘cessation of hostilities, which we all will work on in the next several days with hopes that within two weeks it might be possible to achieve it. Our immediate priority is to end the bloodshed and that’s why reestablishing the ceasefire is so critical,’ he added.

The Saudi offensive was launched to undermine the Ansarullah movement and reinstate Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh. ‘We think we’ve found the path to move forward and invite the parties, President Hadi, the Houthis and the supporters of both sides to take advantage of this moment to try to come to the table and to try to frame an end,’ Kerry added.