Khamenei: US destabilizing Gulf for own interests

Iran’s supreme leader warns neighbors that if Persian Gulf ‘is not safe, it will be insecure for all’

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (photo credit: Kamran Jebreili/AP)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (photo credit: Kamran Jebreili/AP)

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader said Saturday the US is destabilizing the Persian Gulf in pursuit of its own interests, just after US President Barack Obama hosted Arab leaders at Camp David to assuage their security concerns.

Fears about Gulf shipping come after Iranian forces seized a ship and fired on another in recent days, even as the Islamic Republic negotiates a final deal with world powers over its contested nuclear program.

“What is the US’s business?” Khamenei asked in comments posted on his website. “The US is after its own interests and it will make the region insecure.”

The site also quoted him as addressing other Gulf countries: “We are neighbors; the security of the Persian Gulf is in all our interests. If it is safe, we benefit. If it is not safe, it will be insecure for all.”

After a rare Camp David summit, Obama on Wednesday pledged Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to the Sunni governments of the Persian Gulf and even spoke of authorizing US military force if their security is endangered by Shiite Iran or anyone.

An Iranian warship in the Strait of Hormuz (illustrative photo: Alex Hicks, Wikimedia Commons)
An Iranian warship in the Strait of Hormuz (Alex Hicks, Wikimedia Commons)

Obama’s comments sought to soothe nerves in the region over Iran, which the West also accuses of arming Shiite rebels in Yemen known as Houthis, who have swept through much of the country and pushed its president into exile. Iran and the rebels deny any military link between the Houthis and Iran, though the Islamic Republic has sent humanitarian aid.

On Thursday, an Iranian naval patrol fired on a Singapore-flagged commercial tanker in the Persian Gulf, which Iranian press linked to a dispute over an accident that damaged both the ship and an Iranian oil platform on March 22. Iran recently also detained a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship for more than a week over a claim that the Danish shipping company that chartered it owed money to an Iranian firm.

US naval forces have recently started accompanying American-flagged commercial ships passing through the Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz

The measure signaled Washington’s determination to safeguard commercial shipping in the strategic waterway and to counter any potential attempt by Iran to disrupt American-flagged vessels heading through the narrow shipping channel.

In April a convoy of Iranian cargo ships that had been headed toward war-torn Yemen, possibly with advanced weaponry for Houthi rebels, reversed its direction, after the US sent an aircraft carrier to monitor the movements of Iranian ships in the region.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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