Iran’s FM Zarif blames rebels in Syria for chemical weapons use

Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif, who also addressed the Munich conference, refrained from responding to allegations against the Islamic Republic’s violations. Rather, the Iranian top diplomat pointed to the alleged use of Chemical Weapons by Sunni-Muslim militant groups that are fighting in Syria against Tehran’s ally, President Bashar Assad. Zarif’s accusation follows a report by Human Rights Watch, which stated that Assad’s forces and its Shi’ite Muslim allies used Chemical Weapons during their capture of the northern city of Aleppo last year, an allegation rejected by the Assad regime and its allies, who in turn accused anti-government fighters and internationally recognized terror groups. 

“The use of chemical weapons can never be condoned. Violations of the laws of war can never be justified under any pretext. Iran was the first to condemn the use of chemical weapons by whoever commits it. Unfortunately, while we made some progress, and Iran participated and played a significant role in achieving the chemical disarmament in Syria, unfortunately the terrorist organizations Nusra and Daesh still possess chemical weapons and it is important for the entire international community and we have seen even reports by the United States confirming that these terrorist organizations have resorted to the use of chemical weapons. It is important that we address that question as we have in the past addressed the question of the use of chemical weapons and the need for its destruction,” Said Zarif.

Foreign Minister Zarif also took the opportunity to condemn US President Donald Trump’s executive order, which restricted travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran. The executive order’s declared purpose was to improve the vetting process of people who enter the United States, from countries stricken by Islamic terror cells that openly declare their aspiration of attacking Western countries, a fact Zarif said was ‘unrealistic’ and ‘absurd’. 

“Realities that have challenged the zero-sum perspective and approach, overwhelmed global as well as regional hegemonic aspirations, and undermined convenient framings and I cannot avoid it, alternative facts. In other words, we all need to realize that in a globalized world achieving security at the expense of insecurity of others is unrealistic and even an absurd proposition,” added Zarif.