UAE blasts ‘unacceptable and inciting’ threats by Iran over Israel accord

Abu Dhabi summons Tehran’s charge d’affaires for dressing down; earlier, Iranian military chief said Tehran would hold UAE responsible if ‘something happens’ in Persian Gulf

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, March 18, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, March 18, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)

The United Arab Emirate’s foreign ministry said Sunday it had summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in the country for a dressing down over Tehran’s threats and belligerent statements toward Abu Dhabi following the UAE’s announcement of normalization of ties with Israel.

According to state news agency WAM, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech in which he said the UAE had committed a “treacherous act” and faces a “dangerous future,” contained “unacceptable and inciting” threats against the Gulf nation.

Noting that similar threats had also been made by Iran’s foreign ministry, the Revolutionary Guards and other Iranian officials, Abu Dhabi said such comments “carry serious repercussions for security and stability in the Gulf region.”

It said it considered such statements “interference in internal affairs and an attack on sovereignty,” adding that “relations between countries, agreements and treaties are a sovereign matter.”

Earlier Sunday the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces said Tehran’s attitude to the UAE in the Persian Gulf will change following the normalization pact with Israel, warning that Tehran will hold Abu Dhabi responsible for any damage to its national security, the Reuters news agency reported.

“Tehran’s approach to the UAE will change,” Mohammad Bagheri said. “If something happens in the Persian Gulf region and if our national security is damaged, however small, we will hold the UAE responsible for that and we will not tolerate it.”

As tensions between Iran and the US heated up last year over America’s unilateral withdrawal from its 2015 nuclear deal, tankers sailing the waters of the Mideast became targets, particularly near the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf’s narrow mouth.

The US blamed suspected limpet mine attacks that targeted several tankers on Iran. Iran denied being involved, though it did seize several tankers.

President Hassan Rouhani, right, listens to Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri during the army parade commemorating National Army Day in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran on April 18, 2019. (The official website of the Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Bagheri’s warning came after the UAE, Israel and the US issued a joint statement on Thursday announcing an agreement on “the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

The Emirates presented the move, which was bitterly rejected by the Palestinian Authority, as an achievement for West Bank Palestinians, in that it halts Israel’s plans to annex parts of the territory. Israel has said those plans are merely temporarily suspended.

The deal means Israel and the UAE are expected to further collaborate to counter the influence of Iran, a shared nemesis.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the UAE made a “huge mistake” by taking steps toward normalization with Israel and said that Tehran has “historically been the protector of its neighbors and ensurer of the security of the Persian Gulf,” noting the Emirates apparently thought the agreement could help guarantee security.

Rouhani additionally warned the UAE against allowing Israel to have a “foothold in the region,” the Reuters news agency reported.

“[The UAE] better be mindful. They have committed a huge mistake, a treacherous act. We hope they will realize this and abandon this wrong path,” Rouhani said.

For its part, Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vowed on Saturday there would be dangerous consequences for the UAE, and that the deal would accelerate Israel’s demise.

The IRGC, designated a terrorist organization by the US, said that the “shameful agreement” between Jerusalem and the UAE would accelerate the process of the “destruction” of Israel.

Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade in the capital Tehran, September 22, 2018. (Stringer/AFP)

“The shameful agreement to normalize relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Zionist regime, which has been designed by the leadership of the terrorist and inhumane regime of the United States, is one of the biggest historical betrayals against the ideals of al-Quds,” the statement read, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

“Not only will [it] bear no achievement for the American-Zionist-Saudi triangle, but it will also accelerate the destruction of the murderous Zionist regime,” read the statement, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency.

Those statements came hours after the UN Security Council resoundingly defeated a US resolution that sought to indefinitely extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which Rouhani said was a “humiliation” for Washington.

The vote in the 15-member council was two in favor, two against and 11 abstentions, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption. Russia and China strongly opposed the resolution, but did not need to use their vetoes. The Trump administration received support from only the Dominican Republic.

The UN Security Council holds a meeting on the Middle East, November 20, 2019, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Trump administration has said repeatedly that it will not allow the arms embargo provision in the Security Council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers to expire as scheduled on October 18.

Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018 but the five remaining parties — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — still support it.

The agreement is aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons and diplomats from several of the other countries that are party to it have expressed serious concern that extending the arms embargo would lead to Iran’s exit from the agreement, and in turn to fast-tracking its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that Israel and the six Arab Gulf nations who supported the extension “know Iran will spread even greater chaos and destruction if the embargo expires, but the Security Council chose to ignore them.”

Brian Hook, the outgoing US envoy for Iran, on Thursday underscored the support for the indefinite arms embargo extension from the six feuding nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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