Tehran files protest against Poland hosting ‘anti-Iran’ summit
Polish diplomat says meeting not aimed against Iran, as Tehran threatens retaliation if Warsaw does not back down.
Iran‘s foreign ministry has summoned Poland‘s highest-ranking diplomatic representative to the country after it was announced that Warsaw would host a summit on Iran in February.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency said on Sunday that Tehran conveyed its displeasure to Poland’s Chargé d’Affaires, Wojciech Unolt, over its apparent readiness to co-host the February 13 conference.
An unnamed official warned that Tehran would resort to unspecific “counter-action” if the Polish government “did not take urgent compensation measures”.
In his Telegram channel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Unolt was told that “this is a hostile act by the United States against Iran, and Poland is expected to refrain from going along with the US in holding this conference.”
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on an official visit to the Middle East, told Fox News that the meeting in Poland would “focus on Middle East stability and peace, freedom and security here in this region and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilising influence”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjami Netanyahu and Arab foreign ministers have reportedly been invited to the event, according to news reports.
Unolt, the Chargé d’Affaires, reportedly said the conference was not anti-Iranian and that Poland did not share recent remarks by the US against Iran.
The unnamed Iranian official said this was inadequate and Iran would be “forced to retaliate” if Poland did not back down.
Already, Iran’s cinema organisation said it had cancelled a Polish film festival scheduled for next month, according to local media.
“A guest who does not honour their host cannot continue to be a guest. To honour Iran’s dignity, the Polish film week in Tehran will be postponed until Warsaw’s behaviour is proper,” tweeted cinema organisation chief Hossein Entezami, according to the semi-official news agency ILNA.
In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter to admonish those who plan to participate in the conference.
Reminder to host/participants of anti-Iran conference: those who attended last US anti-Iran show are either dead, disgraced, or marginalized. And Iran is stronger than ever.
Polish Govt can't wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus. pic.twitter.com/iOOvhgtUsL
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 11, 2019
“Reminder to host/participants of anti-Iran conference: those who attended last US anti-Iran show are dead, disgraced or marginalized. And Iran is stronger than ever,” Zarif wrote on Friday.
Zarif was referring to Iran hosting more that 100,000 Polish refugees during the Second World War.
Relations between Tehran and Washington are highly fraught following the decision in May by President Donald Trump to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and to reimpose sanctions, including on Iran’s vital oil sector.
Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said the summit was being held because US sanctions had failed to bring Iran to its knees.
“Americans thought pressures would break down our economy. They wanted to bring our oil exports to zero but failed… Now they’ve decided to hold an anti-Iran conference in Europe,” the semi-official news agency Fars quoted Jahangiri as saying.
The news comes as the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House’s national security team led by John Bolton asked the Pentagon last fall to provide it with options for striking Iran, after a group of armed groups aligned with Tehran fired mortars into an area in Baghdad near the US embassy.
The request reportedly sparked deep concern among Pentagon and State Department officials, the newspaper reported, citing current and former US officials.