Saudi Arabia and Iran have stepped up their war of rhetoric, with the Iranian Defense Minister hitting back at comments by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that any battles will take place inside the Islamic Republic.
Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan responded, “We warn them against doing anything ignorant, but if they do something ignorant, we will leave nowhere untouched apart from Mecca and Medina.”
Denouncing the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen’s civil war, where thousands of civilians have been killed, Dehqan said Riyadh thinks it “can do anything because it has an air force”.
Last week Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Saudi Defense Minister, ruled out a de-escalation of tension with Iran on the condition that Riyadh halts its intervention in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia led a coalition into the conflict in March 2015 after the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement, having taken control of the Yemeni capital Sana’a, moved across the country and the Government of President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi decamped to the southern port city of Aden.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the region rose farther in January 2016, after Riyadh executed a prominent Shia cleric and a crowd in Tehran raided and burnt the Saudi Embassy. The Saudis broke off diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.
In recent months, the Rouhani Government has been in discussions with other Gulf States, such as Kuwait and Oman, to defuse the conflict; however, other factions in Iran are opposed to any engagement.
TOP PHOTO: Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan in Moscow in April (AFP)
Rouhani Faces Protests At Site of Mine Disaster
President Hassan Rouhani encountered protests on Sunday when he visited the site of last week’s coal mine explosion that killed at least 35 miners.
Detonation of methane gas at a mine near Azadshahr in Golestan in northern Iran collapsed the mine, trapping scores of miners. At least 73 workers were injured.
Rouhani called for the explosion to be investigated “so that such disasters do not repeat themselves in the future”. He told miners, “The administration will seriously follow your demands, trying hard to meet them and the respective ministers are tasked with identifying and addressing all the problems”.
Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards who oppose Rouhani’s re-election, preferred to focus on protests by miners as Rouhani arrived at the site, circulating video.
In contrast, State outlet Press TV made no mention of any demonstrations.