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Iran Leader Blames Outside Aggression for Extremism

In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, Rouhani said that “certain intelligence agencies,” which he did not identify, “have put blades in the hands of madmen, who now spare no one.”

“I am astonished that these murderous groups call themselves Islamic,” he said. “What is more astonishing is that the Western media, in line with them, repeats this false claim, which provokes the hatred of all Muslims.”

Rouhani told NBC News earlier this week that the American-led airstrikes against ISIS in Syria were illegal, and he earlier called the coalition itself “ridiculous.”

In his speech Thursday, Rouhani said that “aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq” and interference in Syria represented an “erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East.”

“I warn that if we do not muster all of our strengths against extremism and violence, and fail to entrust the job to the people in the region who can deliver, tomorrow this world will not be safe for anyone,” he said.

He said that outside aggression had disrupted the lives of ordinary people, causing “psychological consequences that are today manifested in the form of violence and murder.”

“Democracy is not an export product that can be commercially imported from the West to the East,” he said.

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— Erin McClam