Iran vows to defend Muslim nations

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TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday vowed to defend Muslim countries against terrorism and Israel while insisting that its neighbors should not feel threatened.

Speaking during a National Army Day parade in which Iranian forces displayed its military might, Rouhani praised Tehran’s role in helping the Syrian and Iraqi governments roll back the terror groups like Daesh.

“If tomorrow your capitals face danger from terrorism or Zionism, the power that will give you a positive answer is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. 

“I clearly announce here, just as I clearly announced in the presence of the heads of Islamic countries [at the OIC summit in Istanbul] a few days ago, that the military, political and economic power of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be [used] against neighbors and countries in the Muslim world,” Rouhani said.

He added that Iran would only help if Muslim countries asked it to, and said its military power was purely for defensive and deterrent purposes.

He added that Iran currently enjoys high security and stability in an insecure region due to its powerful Army.

“The power of our armed forces is not against our southern, northern, eastern and western neighbors,” he said.

He appeared to be referring to Gulf Arab states, which have long viewed Iran as seeking to dominate the region. Saudi Arabia has been building alliances to counter growing Iranian influence in the region. Both sides have been supporting rival forces in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Rouhani emphasized that Iran has both logic and hard power on its side, emphasizing that the country’s diplomats and Armed Forces are pursuing the same objectives, which are based on national security, Iran’s might and its stability and development.

During the parade, the army displayed Russian-made S-300 air defense missiles delivered earlier this month.

In 2010, Russia froze a deal to supply the sophisticated systems to Iran, linking the decision to U.N. sanctions. President Vladimir Putin lifted the suspension last year following Iran’s deal with six world powers that curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

The United States and Israel have expressed concern over the missile systems, fearing they could upset the regional balance of military power.

Iran also displayed tanks, light submarines, short-range missiles and other weapons.

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