Offer of New Dialogue to End Hegemonic Illusions

Foregin Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that “advancing hegemonic illusions or attempting to achieve security at the expense of the insecurity of others” had caused conflict -- an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressing a UN meeting on sustaining peace on April 24Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressing a UN meeting on sustaining peace on April 24

Iran invited Persian Gulf states Tuesday to talks on regional security, telling the United Nations it was time to move away from "hegemonic illusions" that have fueled devastating wars.

Addressing a UN meeting on sustaining peace, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif proposed the creation of a "regional dialogue forum," AFP reported.

"We hereby invite our neighbors in this volatile waterway, which has seen too many wars, to join us in this endeavor," Zarif said.

US President Donald Trump is threatening to scrap the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers unless concerns about Tehran's missile program and military role in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon are addressed.

In the UN General Assembly speech, Zarif said "advancing hegemonic illusions or attempting to achieve security at the expense of the insecurity of others" had caused conflict, in an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia.

The foreign minister said it was crucial to "now shift to a new paradigm based on combining our forces... instead of any one of us seeking to be the strongest in our region."

He suggested creating new security networks to replace what he termed as "security blocs."

The United Nations is pushing for political talks to end the war in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country that has been brought to its knees after a US-backed Saudi-led coalition invaded the country to restore a Riyadh-allied president in 2015.

Zarif met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has held recent meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to press for an end to the war in Yemen.

***Attack on Yemen Civilians Must Stop

In a wide-ranging interview with AP on Tuesday, Zarif addressed the conflict in Yemen, saying Iran is urging “everybody” to stop attacking civilian areas—including the Houthis.

The group controls much of Yemen and has been firing missiles at Saudi Arabia in retaliatory strikes against the Saudi-led coalition.

Trump and his allies claim Iran is shipping missiles and other weapons to the Houthis, a charge that Tehran has repeatedly dismissed.

***Fabricated Evidence

US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has paraded missile parts ostensibly recovered in Saudi Arabia in front of reporters and UN Security Council diplomats, arguing that they bear markings and other characteristics proving their Iranian origin. But Zarif laughed off her preposterous eclaims.

He said that one such logo was from the Standard Institute of Iran, which he said regulates consumer goods—not weapons.

“It’s a sign of quality,” Zarif said. “When people want to buy it, they look at whether it’s been tested by the Standard Institute of Iran that your cheese puffs are good, your cheese puffs will not give you a stomach ache.” He laughed and added, “I mean, nobody will put the logo of the Standard Institute of Iran on a piece of missile.”

“I’m not saying Ambassador Haley is fabricating, but somebody is fabricating the evidence she is showing,” Zarif said.

Zarif also pointed to a truck-size section of a missile that the US said was recovered in Saudi Arabia and was transferred to a military base near Washington, where it was on display behind Haley for a photo-op. Zarif noted that the missile had been supposedly shot down in mid-air.

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