While I think that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is a scumbag, having presided over a surge in executions (though, as a citizen of the United States, I really can't take the moral high ground here, even though I am against the death penalty), I have to say that the guy was correct when he stated that the western powers have helped to spread terrorism around the globe- in Rouhani's own words, translated into English:
I deeply regret to say that terrorism has become globalized: From New York to Mosul, from Damascus to Baghdad, from the Easternmost to the Westernmost parts of the world, from Al-Qaeda to Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f'al-Iraq wa al-Sham]. The extremists of the world have found each other and have put out the call: extremists of the world unite. But are we united against the extremists?
Extremism is not a regional issue that just the nations of our region would have to grapple with; extremism is a global issue. Certain states have helped creating it and are now failing to withstand it. Currently our peoples are paying the price. Today’s anti-Westernism is the offspring of yesterday’s colonialism. Today’s anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday’s racism. Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen, who now spare no one. All those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups must acknowledge their errors that have led to extremism. They need to apologize not only to the past but also to the next generation.
Tragically, one cannot argue against that... the current conflagration is largely a result of the ill-conceived, poorly executed U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent power vacuum and sectarian conflicts. Even more tragically, the roots of the decades-long quagmire in the Middle East date back to the Sykes-Picot agreement, which partitioned the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Additional problems in the Middle East can be laid at the feet of the toppling of the democratically-elected Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh in the 1950s at the behest of British Petroleum.
Rouhani further stated:
To fight the underlying causes of terrorism, one must know its roots and dry its source fountains. Terrorism germinates in poverty, unemployment, discrimination, humiliation and injustice. And it grows with the culture of violence. To uproot extremism, we must spread justice and development and disallow the distortion of divine teachings to justify brutality and cruelty.
I'll gloss over his religious platitudes, not sharing them myself, but his assessment of the recent military campaigns of the West is spot on (I have always been of the opinion that the "War on Terror" should have been conducted surgically, involving good intelligence and appropriate use of special forces on highly specific targets- one does not swat mosquitoes with sledghammers). In Rouhani's words:
The strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Caucuses have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists. Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East. As non-peaceful approach, aggression, and occupation target the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people, they result in different adverse psychological and behavioral consequences that are today manifested in the form of violence and murder in the Middle East and North Africa, even attracting some citizens from other parts of the world. Violence is currently being spread to other parts of the world like a contagious disease. We have always believed that democracy cannot be transplanted from abroad; democracy is the product of growth and development; not war and aggression. Democracy is not an export product that can be commercially imported from the West to the East. In an underdeveloped society, imported democracy leads only to a weak and vulnerable government.
When generals step into a region, do not expect diplomats to greet them warmly; when war begins, diplomacy tends to end. When sanctions set in, deep hatred for those imposing them also begins. When the atmosphere of the Middle East is securitized, the answer will be of the same nature as well.
The interests of Western countries in our region are tied to their recognition of beliefs and the desire of the people for democratic governance in the region.
The experience of creation of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and modern extremist groups have demonstrated that one cannot use extremist groups to counter an opposing state and remain impervious to the consequences of rising extremism. The repetition of these mistakes despite many costly experiences is perplexing.
The rest of his speech degenerates into self-serving statements regarding Iranian intentions, and condemnations of "Zionists" in the Levant, but his criticism of the western powers' role in the germination and spread of Islamic extremism and terrorism was embarrassingly accurate. The fight against ISIS has to be conducted in an intelligent fashion, though the fact that one of our "allies" in the region (you know, the one which attacked the U.S. in the first place) had a hand in creating ISIS has me concerned.