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Iran’s President Condemns Gulf State, and U.S., After Deadly Attack

TEHRAN — President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said on Sunday that a Persian Gulf country allied with the United States was behind the attack on a military parade that killed 25 people and wounded nearly 70 others.

Mr. Rouhani did not identify the country he was blaming for the attack, which was claimed by both the Islamic State and an Arab separatist group. But Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are close military allies of the United States that view Iran as a foe, particularly because of its support for militant groups across the Middle East.

“All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are backed by America,” Mr. Rouhani said. “It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with necessary means to commit these crimes.”

The attack on Saturday, in which militants disguised as soldiers opened fire on an annual military parade in Ahvaz, in the oil-rich southwest, was the deadliest in the country in nearly a decade. The chaos was captured live on state television.

Tehran summoned diplomats from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands early Sunday, accusing them of having harbored “members of the terrorist group” that carried out the attack. Officials then summoned the envoy of the United Arab Emirates over what was called the “irresponsible and insulting statements” of an Emirati adviser, according to the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, writing on Twitter on Saturday, had blamed regional countries and their “US masters” for funding and arming the separatists. “Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives,” he wrote.

The parade in Ahvaz was one of many around the country marking the anniversary of the start of Iran’s long war with Iraq in the 1980s, commemorations known as the “Sacred Defense Week.”

At least eight of the dead served in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite paramilitary unit that answers to Iran’s supreme leader, according to the news agency Tasnim. The Revolutionary Guards warned on Sunday that they would seek “deadly and unforgiving revenge in the near future.”

Tensions in Iran have been growing since the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 nuclear accord this year and began reinstating sanctions that had been eased under the deal. Washington has also urged Iran to stop what it calls “malign activities” in the region.

The American government denounced the attack on Saturday, saying it “condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives.”

Initially, the authorities described the assailants as “takfiri gunmen,” a term previously used to describe militants of the Islamic State. Iran has been deeply involved in fighting the group in Iraq, and has supported President Bashar al-Assad of Syria against them and other fighters in his country’s civil war.

But Iranian officials later appeared to believe a claim of responsibility by the region’s Arab separatists, who accuse Iran’s Persian-dominated government of discriminating against the country’s ethnic-Arab minority. The Islamic State initially said the attack had targeted Mr. Rouhani, but the president was in Tehran at the time, and Islamic State militants have made a string of false claims since their major defeats in Iraq and Syria.

Iran has blamed its Mideast archrival, Saudi Arabia, for funding Arab separatists. The state news media in Saudi Arabia did not immediately report on the attack, though a Saudi-linked, Farsi-language satellite channel in Britain immediately broadcast an interview with an Ahvazi activist claiming responsibility.

In a Twitter post, Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to Britain, called the channel’s decision a “heinous act,” said his country would file a complaint with the British authorities. Early Sunday, a Foreign Ministry statement similarly criticized Britain and said Tehran had “already warned” Danish and Dutch diplomats against their governments’ harboring Arab separatists.

Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen of Denmark condemned the attack in Iran and emphasized that there would be “consequences” if those responsible had any connections to Denmark.

Source: NYT > World

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