In fairness, they’ve been saying this for forty years, but now they really mean it. Hassan Rouhani rallied the troops, literally, in demanding that the US and other Western nations exit the Persian Gulf region and leave it to Iran’s tender mercies. Rouhani talked about the use of “foreign troops” while busily extending their reach through Syria to the Mediterranean, from where Western nations would like to keep Iran out too:

Iran’s president called Sunday on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran, criticizing a new U.S.-led coalition patrolling the region’s waterways as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic’s military arsenal. …

Rouhani said Iran was willing to “extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood” to Persian Gulf nations and was “even ready to forgive their past mistakes.”

“Those who want to link the region’s incidents to the Islamic Republic of Iran are lying like their past lies that have been revealed,” the president said. “If they are truthful and really seek security in the region, they must not send weapons, fighter jets, bombs and dangerous arms to the region.”

Rouhani added that the U.S. and Western nations should “distance” themselves from the region.

“Your presence has always been a calamity for this region and the farther you go from our region and our nations, the more security would come for our region,” he said.

Rouhani plans to present a peace plan at his UN visit this week, but don’t expect it to go anywhere. According to Politico, Iran wants the region to reorganize itself under Tehran’s leadership, which is the same plan that the Shi’ites have had for the last 1300 years or so. The Sunnis have a plan to make sure the Shi’ites never succeed in doing so. Those are the “past mistakes” that Iran proposes to forgive … once they do homage to the ayatollahs of Tehran, that is.

Needless to say, the Saudis are not going to jump at the opportunity to put themselves under Ali Khameini’s thumb. Nor will they want the US and the West to exit the Middle East stage, not while Iran’s shooting cruise missiles at their oil facilities. It’s the kind of demand and proposal that even Rouhani has to know will generate laughs rather than handshakes. While the Arabian peninsula is not as strategic to the US as it used to be before we took the handcuffs off our own petroleum extraction, it’s still strategic enough for us to retain a keen interest in isolating Iran’s expansionist ambitions, which Rouhani apparently will be good enough to prove in his upcoming UN speech.

Rouhani’s blowing smoke in more ways than one. If Rouhani wanted the US out of the region, he has his best opportunity in decades. Donald Trump is the first post-war non-interventionist president, the man who wants us to exit both sides of Iran — Iraq/Syria and Afghanistan — without a firm victory in either place. All Iran had to do was not act crazy, and they can’t even do that long enough to let Trump order the US out of the region. Iran’s actions in seizing ships and firing missiles make it impossible for Trump to retreat now.

However, Iran isn’t crazy, at least not in that sense. Their leadership caste truly believes in the Twelfth Imam prophecy and the worldwide conflagration that has to precede it. They want an Armageddon, only on their terms, in order to complete their non-rational ambitions of Shi’ite Islamist global conquest. In that sense, they need the US as a part of that conflict, which is why Rouhani’s talking out of both sides of his mouth. Apart from force of habit, of course.