Iranian leaders have harshly criticized U.S. foreign policy and President Donald Trump for revitalizing the U.S.-Saudi relationship on his trip to the region. In a tweet, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sarcastically referred to the Sunni kingdom as a “bastion of democracy and moderation” and rhetorically asked if the arms deal Trump signed was foreign policy or “simply milking” the country of $480 billion.
Iranians were particularly incensed that Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized their government and human rights record because they had just held presidential and municipal council elections with a 73 percent turnout on May 19. The kingdom “has never seen a ballot box,” President Hassan Rouhani quipped in his first press conference since his reelection. Rouhani dismissed Trump’s visit to Riyadh as a “show” that lacked any value. “Americans do not know our region and the problem is that those who are advising the Americans are unfortunately either rulers who are misguiding the U.S., or buying off people in the U.S.,” he said on May 22. The following are reactions by Iranian leaders to U.S. officials.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
We derive stability not from "coalitions", but from our people, who -unlike many- do vote. Iranians must be respected & are ready to engage.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 20, 2017
First concrete result of POTUS cozying up to despots in Riyadh: Deadly attack on peaceful protesters by emboldened Bahrain regime. Google it— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 23, 2017
Despite some of the missteps committed by some countries of the region, we are still determine to abide by our principled policy. Recently, a Saudi official threatened to take the battle inside Iran. Today, in the name of the Iranian government, I officially declare that we are prepared to gift peace to the entire region, and to Saudi Arabia before anyone else.
No doubt, this is conditional on the Saudi government ending the futile war and devastating attacks on the Yemeni people, and ceasing its repression of the majority seeking democracy in neighbouring countries. If the US president is committed to his own electoral slogans, and considers himself a friend of Riyadh's government, then he must engage the Saudis regarding the methods necessary to stop Takfiri terrorists from continuing to fuel fires in the region and repeat attacks such as the 9/11 attacks by its citizens in Western countries.
Iran is willing to fully cooperate, whether with regional countries or those outside the region, to combat terrorism and extremism, and restore stability and security to Syria. The Iranian conduct in this cooperation will follow the constant principle that Iran abides by in its foreign policy - namely the rejection of hegemony.
While we respect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of all countries of the region, and affirm non-interference in each other's internal affairs and the resolution of all differences through peaceful means, we consider that long-term interests - whether those of Iran or the peoples of the region and the world - require fighting the scourges of terrorism and extremism, especially those pursued in the name of religion.
In this regard, we shall spare no effort.
—May 22, 2017, in an op-ed for The New Arab
If past performance is an indicator of future success, another $110 billion worth of weapons will neither reduce “the burden” on the American military nor support “the long-term security of Saudi Arabia,” as the State Department argues. The last time the Saudis spent that kind of money was when they provided billions to the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980s to arm his war of aggression against Iran. Look what that bought them and the world.
At best, Mr. Trump is extorting our Saudi neighbors, milking them for money they do not have. At worst, he could be turning the United States into Saudi Arabia’s mercenary in the Middle East, a rather ignominious position for America considering where 15 of the Sept. 11 hijackers came from. A security crackdown in Saudi Arabia before Mr. Trump’s visit — as well as the Bahraini regime’s deadly attack on a sit-in immediately afterward — suggest that the region’s despots feel that they’ve been given carte blanche to stamp out peaceful dissent.
In other words, something deeply rotten is unfolding in our part of the world. …
Let me be clear: What President Trump called “lots of beautiful military equipment” won’t drain the swamps in which terrorism and extremist militancy fester. Neither will golden chains or glowing orbs provide a magical solution to the socioeconomic and political challenges that drive radicalization. What will work is a genuine effort to forge inclusive engagement among the regional powers based on a policy of coexistence and acceptance that military solutions are futile.
—May 26, 2017 in an op-ed for The New York Times
President Hassan Rouhani
“I don't think the people of the United States would be willing to trade the blood they gave in 9/11 with billions of dollars in arms sales, surrendering to terrorists in the region. The U.S. administration has never combated terrorism, but the people of that country are against terrorism and want it eliminated.”
"There are two things about the new U.S. administration: one of them is that we are waiting for the new U.S. administration to reach an established position with regard to its way of thinking and stances, as well as future plans, and we hope that it can reach an established position to let us have a more precise judgement about the group at work in Washington.”
"The other point is that unfortunately, Americans have always made mistakes with regard to our region, when they attached Afghanistan and Iraq, when they imposed sanctions on us, and in Syria and Yemen. Americans do not know our region and the problem is that those who are advising the Americans are unfortunately either rulers who are misguiding the US, or buying off people in the US. I hope that the U.S. administration think about the interests of the American people, regardless of the fact that they are not thinking about the interests of other nations.”
"These are dreams. The people of Iran will neither ask nor await permission from anybody about their defensive weapons. Our nation has decided to be powerful and mighty. Our weapons and missiles are for peace, and if Iran does not have weapons, if we do not build missiles, there are some who will make mistakes again in their calculations like they did before when they dragged the region into war.”
"The American authorities must know that whenever we need to test-fire missiles for technical reasons, we will test them and will not await permission from them.”
—May 22, 2017, in a press conference
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi
"Unfortunately, under the hostile and aggressive policies of the American statesmen, we are witnessing a renewed strengthening of terrorist groups in the region and miscalculation of the dictatorships which support these groups.”
“Once again, by his meddling, repetitive and baseless claims about Iran, the American president tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia.”
“It is surprising that Iran is being accused of destabilizing the region by a country which has been an accomplice to the Zionist regime's crackdown on the oppressed Palestinian nation through all-out arms, financial and intelligence support for decades.”
The United States “has been complicit in the massacre of the defenseless Yemeni people through arming certain Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf,"
Washington played a role in "creating and cultivating Takfiri-terrorist currents, including Daesh (ISIS).”
The new U.S. administration has taken or made "deceitful stances, meddlesome statements, and destructive measures.”
Such measures are aimed at "confronting people's rule of their destiny in regional countries and consolidating the position and superiority of the Zionist regime (Israel)."
"U.S. support and that of its regional allies for terrorists is so obvious that their escape forward and accusations of terrorism support against others have no buyers.”
"Regional countries, instead of spending billions of dollars from their people's assets on an illusory American support, had better think about the real stability, welfare, tranquility and peace of their people and spend these exorbitant sums on development and constructive regional cooperation."
Those countries, he said, "are paving the way for vital infrastructures of the regional countries to weaken and collapse, a case in point being the deplorable situation of Yemen and destruction of Syrian infrastructures by Takfiri terrorists."
The US and its allies "should know that Iran, as a democratic, stable and powerful country enjoying popular support, is a harbinger of peace, tranquility and good neighborliness in the region and a front-runner in the global fight against violence and extremism.”
—May 22, 2017, to the press
Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, Military Aide to the Supreme Leader
Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri
“The U.S. secretary of state's expectations of the Iranian president indicate that U.S. officials do not understand the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
—May 21, 2017, to the press