PHOTO: Saudi Fpreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir “Iran is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism”
Saudi Arabia has hit back at Iran in their rhetorical war, with Riyadh’s Foreign Minister claiming via The Wall Street Journal that “Iran Can’t Whitewash Its Record of Terror“.
Adel al-Jubeir was responding to an opinion piece by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, published by The New York Times last week, which claimed links between Saudi Arabia and Al Qa’eda under the headline “Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism”:
When Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made public pronouncements about fighting extremism, the facts show that his comments are ironic at best and little more than insincere propaganda.
The fact is that Iran is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism, with government officials directly responsible for numerous terrorist attacks since 1979. These include suicide bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and the Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport; the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996; attacks against more than a dozen embassies in Iran, including those of Britain, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia; and the assassination of diplomats around the world.
Al-Jubeir countered Zarif’s Al-Qa’eda accusations with some of his own: “If Iran wants to demonstrate sincerity in contributing to the global war on terrorism, it could have begun by handing over al Qaeda leaders who have enjoyed sanctuary”. He cited Osama bin Laden’s son Saad and Al Qa’eda’s chief of operations, whom he said “still benefits from Iranian protection”.
The Foreign Minister then turned to regional matters, including Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflictd: “The blood of the more than 500,000 people slaughtered by the regime of Bashar al-Assad stains the hands of Iran, which sent forces — both regular troops and non-state actors — to prop up the Syrian regime.”
Al-Jubeir avoided any direct reference to the Yemeni civil war, where a Saudi-led coalition began bombing and ground attacks from March 2015. Iran has used the Saudi intervention to claim that Riyadh is an unprincipled aggressor.
Instead, the Foreign Minister tucked Yemen into his narrative of Iran-backed terrorism and destabilizing of other countries: “To export the revolution, Iran set up so-called Cultural Centers of the Revolutionary Guard in many countries, including Sudan, Nigeria, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and the Comoros Islands.”
Iranian-Saudi relations, long shaped by rivalry within the region, have deteriorated since last September’s Mina stampede, in which thousands of Hajj pilgrims — including 464 Iranians — died. In January, the Saudi execution of a prominent Shia cleric led to a crowd attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, followed by Riyadh’s breaking of relations with the Islamic Republic.
The rhetoric was sharply escalated two weeks ago by the Supreme Leader’s portrayal of the Saudis — using the Mina disaster as a reference — as “traitors” and “vile and barbaric progeny” serving the US and Israel.
President Rouhani and Zarif, who once promoted “engagement” with Saudi, joined the campaign with Rouhani stating, “Saudi Arabia is committing crimes in the region and supporting terrorism.”
Senior Official: US Airstrikes on Assad Forces Were Deliberate
A senior Iranian official has declared that Saturday night’s US-led airstrikes on the Assad regime’s forces in eastern Syria were intentional.
“We strongly denounce the US measures, and do not believe that it was a military mistake,” said Hossein Amir-Abdollahian — an advisor to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and former Deputy Foreign Minister — as he met Syria’s Ambassador Adnan Hassan Mahmoud on Sunday.
The US has said that the airstrikes, which killed at least 62 troops, were a “failure of intelligence” as regime forces battled the Islamic State on a mountain in Deir ez-Zor Province. The American military said it informed Russia — the Assad regime’s main backer, along with Iran — of the intended attack.
However, Abdollahian maintained that the US will do anything to weaken Syria’s morale and boost “terrorist groups”: “Attacking an army which is battling terrorism means backstabbing and helping Daesh [the Islamic State].”