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Foreign forces would not help Arabian Gulf security: Rouhani

Published: Updated:

The presence of foreign forces in the region would not help regional security and is not needed, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Rouhani’s comments come in the wake of the US and the UK announcing an “international maritime security mission” to protect merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions.

The “great powers,” especially the US, only seek to create division between Islamic countries and empty their treasuries, claimed Rouhani.

Iran, alongside the Arabian Gulf states, is ready to maintain regional security, he said.

Rouhani also expressed his opposition to any potential Israeli presence in the Arabian Gulf, saying, “If they can, the Israelis should maintain their own security where they are… wherever they have a presence, they have caused insecurity, murder, and terrorism… the Zionists are the main cause of war and terrorism in the region.”

On Sunday, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, chief commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said that Hezbollah is powerful enough to single-handedly wipe Israel off the map in a potential war, Fars reported.

“Wherever the enemy is, we are already there,” Fars quoted him as saying.

Commander of the IRGC’s navy Alireza Tangsiri warned on Sunday that any potential Israeli presence in the Arabian Gulf would be illegitimate and could lead to war in the region.

He also claimed that Iranian authorities can seize any ship, any time, even if accompanied by US or UK armed forces.

Tangsiri, along with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and seven other IRGC commanders, was subject to sanctions by the US on June 24 in response to Iran’s downing of a US drone on June 20 and the IRGC’s long-term promotion of terrorism in the region.

On July 4, British Royal Marines helped authorities in Gibraltar – a British Overseas Territory – seize an Iranian tanker on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Tehran threatened reprisals, and two weeks later the IRGC intercepted the British-flagged tanker “Stena Impero” as it made its way through the Strait of Hormuz. It has detained the ship at an Iranian port.