DUBAI (REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - President Hassan Rouhani yesterday said Iran was ready to confront the United States and its Gulf Arab allies, a day after an attack on an Iranian military parade killed 25 people, including 12 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.
Speaking before leaving Teheran to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mr Rouhani accused US-backed Gulf Arab states of providing financial and military support for anti-government ethnic Arab groups in Iran.
"America is acting like a bully towards the rest of the world...and thinks it can act based on brute force," said Mr Rouhani, who engineered Iran's 2015 nuclear deal that ushered in a cautious detente with Washington before tensions flared anew with US President Donald Trump's decision to quit the accord.
"But our people will resist and the government is ready to confront America. We'll overcome this (sanctions) situation and America will regret choosing the wrong path."
Iran's Foreign Ministry yesterday summoned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) charge d'affaires over comments made about Saturday's bloodshed in the south-western city of Ahvaz.
State-run PressTV said the action was taken over comments by an unnamed UAE official, without giving details.
Teheran also summoned diplomats from Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain for allegedly hosting members of the group suspected of links to Saturday's attack.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has claimed responsibility for the assault via its propaganda mouthpiece Amaq and, according to intelligence monitor Site, said the attack was in response to Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region.
The Gulf Arab state of Qatar, which is at odds with US allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, condemned the assault on the military parade, which wounded at least 70 people.
Gunmen had fired on a viewing stand where Iranian officials had gathered to watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic's 1980-88 war with Iraq.
Soldiers crawled as gunfire crackled, while women and children fled for their lives.
It was one of the worst attacks against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, the sword and shield of Shi'ite clerical rule in Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. The elite force answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and runs its own business empire in Iran, a major oil producer which has been relatively stable compared with Arab states that have grappled with unrest since uprisings in 2011.
"America wants to cause chaos and unrest in our country so that it can return to this country, but these are unreal fantasies and they will never achieve their goals," said Mr Rouhani.
Iran, Opec's third-largest oil producer, has also accused Mr Trump of orchestrating the oil price rally by imposing sanctions on Teheran and accused its regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia of bowing to US pressure.
Benchmark Brent oil reached US$80 a barrel this month, prompting Mr Trump to reiterate on Thursday his demand that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries lower prices.