Fresh from rejecting President Barack Obama’s attempt to meet him at the United Nations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani launched a blistering anti-American attack from the rostrum at the General Assembly on Tuesday, accusing the United States of bigotry, “crimes,” and anti-Shia prejudice, repeating the tone of his irascible predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinehad. Rouhani also attacked Israel and the West in general.
The newly-elected Iranian leader blasted American policies against his own country, such as economic sanctions, accusing the U.S. of fomenting “violence and extremism” in the region and throughout the world. He criticized U.S. military policies against terrorists, including the use of drones–a popular target for attack at the UN, and one that President Obama felt obliged to defend in his own remarks earlier in the day.
Rouhani closed with an appeal to “hope”–a dig, perhaps, at Obama, who once campaigned on the term. He pledged that Iran would act in accordance “with democracy and the ballot box everywhere,” stating that Iran believed there were “no violent solutions” to crisis–a statement at odds with how the regime defended a stolen election in 2009, and its ongoing intervention in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime.
Rouhani added that the best way to resolve disagreement over Iran’s nuclear program was “acceptance of the inalienable right” of Iran to develop nuclear technology. He said that he had “listened carefully” to President Obama’s address, and said that peace was possible if “warmongering pressure groups” could be resisted–an oblique reference to pro-Israel groups, common in Iranian anti-American and anti-Jewish discourse.