Iran says Saudis seeking tension in Middle East

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TEHRAN – Iran’s Foreign Ministry Thursday denounced hostile comments by Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince against Tehran as a sign of flawed understanding of the regional situation and a proof that the kingdom follows “confrontational and destructive policies” in the region and towards Tehran.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi was reacting to comments made by Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, who rejected the possibility of normalization of ties with Iran.

“Over the past years, Iran has shown in words and deeds that it endeavors towards utilizing common ground to reach understanding and cooperate with all regional countries,” Qassemi said.

Salman, who is also the Saudi defense minister, rejected the possibility of normalization of ties with Iran, accusing Tehran of seeking to “control the Muslim world.”

The rare and wide-ranging interview, which aired on multiple Saudi TV channels, offered a glimpse into how Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud views the kingdom’s top rival. It also laid bare the breadth of his portfolio and powers.

The 31-year-old prince, who was named in 2015 by his father, King Salman, as an eventual heir to the throne, is Saudi Arabia’s defence minister, overseeing a bloody war in Yemen where anti-US opposition took over capital Sanaa and large parts of contry following Arab Spring. 

Framing the tensions with Iran in sectarian terms, he said it is Tehran’s goal “to control the Islamic world” and to spread its Shia doctrine in preparation for the arrival of Imam Mahdi. Shia Muslims believe al-Mahdi, the 12th and last Shia imam, who disappeared in the ninth century, will one day reappear to bring justice to the world.

Iranian  spokesman denounced the hostile comments as a sign of flawed understanding of the regional situation, lack of political wisdom, and a “strategic mistake” in pursuing the policy of spreading terrorism.

The Saudi deputy crown prince’s stances are far from political wisdom and translate into “a wrong step and strategic mistake”, while the tense Middle East region is in dire need of cooperation and compromise, Qassemi stressed.

He went on to reaffirm Iran’s commitment to Muslim world’s unity as the way out of regional crises, which he said originate from “foreign interference and birth and growth of extremist ideologies and Takfiri terrorism” and are fostered by “Wahhabism’s sectarian ideologies in Saudi Arabia.”

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic was ready to normalize ties with Riyadh if the Kingdom halted its bombardment of Yemen and stopped supporting extremist groups.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to bring back to power the resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh, and to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The Riyadh regime has, however, failed to reach its goals despite suffering great expense.

The military aggression has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians

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