Iran blames US for creating ISIS amid worsening Middle East tensions
(CNN)Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed the US for creating ISIS and fostering instability in the Middle East amid an ongoing crisis in the region. [restrict]
“That (the) US arms a terrorist group is what causes instability,” Khameini wrote on Twitter Monday. “Who created ISIS? The US!”
He added that while US President Donald Trump accuses Iran of supporting terrorists, “terrorism in this region has American roots.”
Trump last week responded to terrorist attacks in the Iranian capital of Tehran by warning “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote,” a reaction described as “repugnant” by Iran’s foreign minister.
Those attacks, which left at least 12 people dead, were claimed by ISIS.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, a powerful branch of the country’s military, vowed revenge for the attacks and blamed them on longstanding regional rival Saudi Arabia.
ISIS has its roots in al Qaeda in Iraq, which took part in the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion of the country.
While Saudi Arabia has been threatened by the group, officials in the region and their Western counterparts have claimed ISIS receives funding from backers inside the Kingdom as well as from other rich Middle Eastern countries.
Khamenei’s comments come as tensions in the Middle East are among their highest in years, following the cutting of ties between major regional powers led by Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, which has been accused of supporting terrorism in the region.
Qatar has been ejected from the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthis in Yemen, and transport links between it and three other Gulf countries have been severed, with Qataris living in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE ordered to leave. Turkey and Iran have stepped into the gap, raising the specter of a reshuffling of alliances in the Gulf region.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Monday that the country’s government still has “no clue what are the main reasons behind all these measures.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism networks in the region. [/restrict]