Amid its political offensive condemning the Saudi-led aerial offensive on Yemen, Iran’s regime has stepped up public pressure on Riyadh, including a mass demonstration in front of the Saudi Embassy.
More than 300 protestors gathered on Saturday to condemn the Saudi police’s reported sexual abuse of two Iranian teenagers and aggressive acts against pilgrims. They demanded that King Salman apologize to the Iranian nation as they urged the closure of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and expulsion of the Charge d’Affaires.
The four-hour protest was also used to link Saudi Arabia to the Islamic State, as Iran faces challenges in the region, especially over its alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The crowd chanted, “Shame on you. Get off our soil!” and “Death to House of Saud!”, while a statement asserted, “Today, the Iranian nation has gathered in front of the Islamic State-affiliated Saudi embassy to show solidarity with the two Iranian teenagers who were insulted and to make the al-Saud hear our protest.”
Mohammad Reza Yousefi, the director of the Tehran Governorate office for political affairs, had stated that any protest against Saudi Arabia would be illegal. Anti-riot police did not try to prevent the demonstration, although they moved to stop protesters when they tried to pull down the Saudi flag.
State media then highlighted the protesters and their demands of the Saudis.
All week the regime has condemned Saudi Arabia for its airstrikes in Yemen, launched more than two weeks ago to check the advance of the Houthi movement which controls the Yemeni capital Sanaa. The attacks culminated in a speech by the Supreme Leader on Thursday, as he accused the kingdom of rule by inexperienced leaders who “want to show savagery”:
The Saudis will definitely be struck back in this issue and their nose will be rubbed against the ground. This action is not acceptable in the region and I warn that they will certainly lose interests.
Iran provides political and economic support for the Houthis, a Zaidi Shia movement. Critics also say Tehran is providing weapons and command support for the Houthi military offensive, which is closing on the southern port city of Aden.
Local militiamen in Aden said on Friday evening that they captured two Iranian military officers advising Houthi fighters.
The militiamen claimed the Iranians are from the elite Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guards. They said the officers would be turned over to the Saudi-led coalition.