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Iran’s Zarif: US backing butchers, dictators in Middle East

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has delivered a strongly-worded response to US President Donald Trump for once again accusing Tehran of sponsoring “terror.” The top Iranian diplomat says Washington is itself supporting dictators in the Middle East region to advance its hostile anti-Iran policies.

“Iranians—including our Jewish compatriots—are commemorating 40 yrs of progress despite US pressure, just as @realDonaldTrump again makes accusations against us,” Zarif tweeted on Wednesday, in reference to the upcoming 40th anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the Washington-backed Pahlavi regime.

Zarif further said Washington’s decades-long hostility towards Iran has led it to support “dictators, butchers and extremists” in the Middle East.

Zarif’s tweet comes in reaction to Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, during which he called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” and said the Islamic Republic “chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.”

Under the Trump administration, the US has stepped up its pressure campaign against Iran.

The campaign reached its peak in May 2018, when he unilaterally withdrew America from the 2015 nuclear deal in defiance of international criticisms.

During his State of the Union Speech, Trump also defended the decision for America to abandon the “disastrous” Iran deal and “place the toughest sanctions ever” against the country.

Trump’s White House is also preparing to host a so-called Middle East security conference in Warsaw, Poland, next week to discuss ways of piling pressure on the Islamic Republic.

‘Terror in Mideast rooted in US policies’

Reacting to Trump’s claims, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that terrorism in the Middle East and Western Asia is the outcome of the wrong policies adopted by the US and some of its allies in the region over the past years.

The US, he added, has inflicted “erosive instability” on the region by creating al-Qaeda, Daesh and other extremist and terrorist groups.

Qassemi further said Judaism like other Abrahamic religions enjoys lofty a position in Iran based on its Constitution, and has always been respected.

“Unfortunately, what has brought notoriety to the true followers of Judaism is the inhumane and criminal actions and measures taken by the Zionist regime, which have tarnished the image and position of the Jews in the world in the name of religion,” he said.

The official further emphasized that Iran has over the past four decades held elections more than any regional country, including close US allies.

He added that Trump’s “empty, delusional and illogical accusations” against Iran’s people and Islamic establishment won’t help cover up the crimes being committed against regional nations by the US and its allied dictatorships, which promote violence and extremis.

‘Outrageous lies’

Speaking to Press TV on Trump’s speech, Richard Silverstein, journalist and political commentator, said the US president “just repeated a whole bunch of slogans that were empty and meaningless.”

He described Trump’s attacks against Iran as “outrageous lies,” saying his comments were filled with “distortions.”

“This whole speech was a fantastical flight of Trump’s imagination,” he added.

Silverstein further said the speech “was 5,000 words. It is just unheard of for a speech to go on that long and it was repetitious and boring. I’d like to say something nice about it but it really was typical Trump and that’s not a good thing.”

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