President Trump is currently in the midst of his first foreign tour, which has thus far taken him to Saudi Arabia and Israel. While delivering an address in Riyadh on Sunday, Trump called on Middle Eastern leaders to isolate Iran in an effort to combat a “crisis of Islamic extremism.”
“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iranians were celebrating the re-election of the president Hassan Rouhani, a moderate leader who will now serve a second term.
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar dismissed Trump’s depictions of her country as “fantasies.”
“The Iranian nation wants peace and prosperity,” she said. “President Rouhani has indicated that he will work to increase and improve relationships with not only neighboring countries, but also in the region, but also at the international level. Increasing trade, exchanges, cultural exchanges, diplomatic exchanges. These are very high on the agenda for the current president. This is very different from some of the fantasies that have been expressed by people like Mr. Trump.”
During the interview, Ebtekar also lambasted Saudi Arabia, which was the first country to play host to the president during his foreign tour.
“Iran is a very strong and democratic country, very contrary to what goes on in Saudi Arabia,” she said. “The people of Saudi Arabia don’t know what an election looks like.” This is not entirely true; Saudi Arabia does stage elections, but the country’s king holds the ultimate political and religious authority.
Ebtekar also pushed back against Trump’s claim that Iran supports international terrorist groups, saying it is in fact Saudi Arabia that is culpable in that regard. “[F]unding for the terrorists is coming from exactly from the same country where they’re trying to deliver such a wrong and distorted message about Iran,” she said.
In reality, both countries have been implicated as major supporters of international terrorism. A 2016 report from the State Department labeled Iran as a “top state sponsor of terrorism,” according to CNN. And Saudi Arabia has been known to funnel money into propagating the extremist Wahabi strain of Islam, which spreads fundamentalism across the globe. Additionally, a Wikileaks cabal indicated that Saudi Arabian donors “constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” and that the government does little to stop this flow of money.
Watch the full interview below.
Saudi hasn’t had elections since "their inception,” says Iran VP. “We’ve had elections practically every year.” https://t.co/f2o8T5Xhdx
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) May 22, 2017