TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on Middle East states on Thursday to “drive back Zionism,” in an Army Day tirade against the Islamic republic’s arch-foe Israel.
Speaking flanked by top general as troops paraded in a show of might, Rouhani also sought to reassure the region that the weaponry on display was for defensive purposes and not a threat.
“The region’s nations have lived alongside each other for centuries and never had a problem… If there is a problem, it is caused by others,” he said in the speech broadcast live on state television. “Let us stand together, be together and rid the region of the aggressor’s presence.”
Rouhani assured neighboring countries that Iran’s armed forces are “never against you or your national interests” but are “standing against the aggressors.”
“The power of our armed forces is the power of the region’s countries, the Islamic world”, he said. “If we have a problem in the region today, its roots are either with Zionism or America’s arrogance.”
Rouhani called on Muslim nations to band together and “restore the historical right of the nation of Palestine,” saying that “Zionism … has been committing crimes in the region for the past 70 years.”
Read More: Times of Israel