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Iran Threatens Missile Strikes on UAE  09/25 06:20

   An Iranian media outlet close to the country's hard-line Revolutionary Guard 
published a video Tuesday threatening the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the 
United Arab Emirates with missile attacks, further raising regional tensions 
after a weekend militant attack on a military parade in Iran.

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- An Iranian media outlet close to the country's 
hard-line Revolutionary Guard published a video Tuesday threatening the 
capitals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with missile attacks, 
further raising regional tensions after a weekend militant attack on a military 
parade in Iran.

   The video tweeted and later deleted by the semi-official Fars news agency 
comes as Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Riyadh and Abu 
Dhabi for the attack in the city of Ahvaz on Saturday, which killed at least 25 
people and wounded over 60.

   The threat amplifies the unease felt across the greater Persian Gulf, which 
is seeing Iran's economy upended in the wake of America's withdrawal from 
Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers and Saudi and Emirati forces bogged 
down in their yearslong war in Yemen.

   Meanwhile, Iranian officials on Tuesday identified the five men who carried 
out the parade attack, which authorities have blamed on Arab separatists. At 
least two of the men identified have appeared in a video distributed by the 
Islamic State group in its own claim of responsibility for the Ahvaz attack. 
This further complicates the process of determining who exactly was behind the 
assault.

   The Fars video shows file footage of previous ballistic missile attacks 
launched by the Guard, then a graphic of a sniper rifle scope homing in on Abu 
Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The video also 
threatened Israel.

   "The era of the hit-and-run has expired," Khamenei's voice is heard in the 
video, the segment taken from an April speech by the supreme leader. "A heavy 
punishment is underway."

   Fars did not say why it took the video down. However, it came just before 
President Hassan Rouhani was to address the U.N. General Assembly later in the 
day.

   Iran has fired its ballistic missiles twice in anger in recent years. In 
2017, responding to an Islamic State attack on Tehran, the Guard fired missiles 
striking IS targets in Syria. Then, earlier this month, it launched a strike on 
a meeting of Iranian Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.

   The Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Khamenei, has sole 
control over Iran's ballistic missile program.

   Under Khamenei's orders, Iran now limits its ballistic missiles to a range 
of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), which gives Tehran the range to strike 
Israel, Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as regional 
American military bases.

   The Fars video follows a long tradition of martial propaganda films across 
the Mideast.

   Last December, a pro-Saudi computer-animated video depicted a scenario in 
which the kingdom launched its own missiles into Iran and later sent its troops 
into Tehran to the applause of cheering Iranians. Iran likewise released a 
video in 2016 showing Iranian forces triumphing over an American naval fleet 
after they shot down an airliner, a reference to the USS Vincennes downing an 
Iran Air flight in 1988, killing all 290 people aboard.

   Saturday's attack targeted one of many parades in Iran marking the start of 
the country's long 1980s war with Iraq, part of a commemoration known as 
"Sacred Defense Week." Militants disguised as soldiers opened fire as rows of 
troops marched past officials in Ahvaz.

   Arab separatists in the region claimed the attack and Iranian officials have 
blamed them for the assault. The separatists accuse Iran's Persian-dominated 
government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority. Iran's Khuzestan 
province, where Ahvaz is the provincial capital, also has seen recent protests 
over Iran's nationwide drought, as well as economic protests.

   IS also claimed Saturday's attack, initially offering incorrect information 
about it and later publishing a video of three men it identified as the 
attackers. The men in the video, however, did not pledge allegiance or 
otherwise identify themselves as IS followers.

   Iran's Intelligence Ministry identified the attackers as Hassan Darvishi, 
Javad Sari, Ahmad Mansouri, Foad Mansouri and Ayad Mansouri. It said two of 
them were brothers and another was their cousin.

   Darvishi and Ayad Mansouri both appeared in the IS video. A third man in the 
video resembled either Ahmad or Foad Mansouri, but The Associated Press could 
not independently verify his identity.

   Iranian officials have maintained that Arab separatists carried out the 
attack. A spokesman for an Ahvazi separatists group on Saturday also identified 
one of the attackers by name --- Ahmad Mansouri --- in an interview with AP 
reporters.

   State TV reported late Monday that authorities have detained 22 suspects 
linked to the group behind the attack and confiscated ammunition and 
communication equipment.

   The Guard's acting commander, Gen. Hossein Salami, vowed revenge Monday 
against the perpetrators and what he called the "triangle" of Saudi Arabia, 
Israel and the United States.

   "You are responsible for these actions; you will face the repercussions," 
the general said. "We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge."

   Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said Monday that the 
attack showed Iran has "a lot of enemies," according to remarks posted on his 
website. He linked the attackers to the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

   "Definitely, we will harshly punish the operatives" behind the terror 
attack, he added.


(KA)

 
 
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