In a presentation critics characterized as remarkably similar to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s case for the Iraq War, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stood before a missile fragment that she claimed bears Iran’s “fingerprints” and asserted that the Iranian regime poses “a threat to the peace and security of the entire world.”
“Make no mistake: What Nikki Haley is doing right now is laying the groundwork for a U.S.-Iran war on behalf of Saudi Arabia.”
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council
“It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it,” Haley said in a speech delivered at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, located just outside the nation’s capital. Haley went on to suggest that the fragment theatrically positioned behind her on wooden pallets was part of a missile Houthi rebels fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen last month.
Citing a report by U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, Haley insisted that the evidence showing Iran provided the Houthis with the missile—and thus violated U.N. resolutions—is “irrefutable” and “undeniable.”
In a statement, Iran fiercely denied Haley’s allegations, saying they were “fabricated” with the goal of “cover[ing] up for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen,” which have been carried out with “U.S. complicity.”
In response to Haley’s remarks, American analysts also called attention to the direct and protracted role the U.S. government has played, and continues to play, in the ongoing war and Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Spencer Ackerman, national security reporter for the Daily Beast, wrote: “Wonder when Iran holds its press conference to highlight all the American and British munitions the Saudis have used on hospitals, the Sanaa airport, etc.”
Experts and some members of the international community also expressed doubts that Haley’s “evidence” for Iran’s connection to Houthi rebels in Yemen was as strong as she claimed. “Info I have is less clear,” Olof Skoog, Sweden’s ambassador to the U.N., said when asked about Haley’s assertions.
Reza Marashi, research director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), pointed out that the U.N. report Haley cited as “devastating” proof against Iran has not even been completed, and thus cannot possibly amount to “irrefutable” evidence.
“As is the case with so many claims from the Trump administration, it appears that the facts are being chosen to fit a predetermined narrative or policy goal,” Marashi concluded.