Iran's Zarif: Saudi 'petrodollar-financed demagogues' dragging Mideast into conflict

Islamic Republic's foreign minister claims in piece in NYT that in efforts to deligitimize Iran, Saudi Arabia is masking ulterior motives.

January 11, 2016 13:48
1 minute read.
Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (photo credit: ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, has blasted Saudi Arabia for what he suggested was Riyadh's attempt to drag the entire Middle East into a confrontation.

In an op-ed piece published Sunday in The New York Times, the Iranian official asserted that Saudi Arabia's persistent bid to malign Iran is masking its ulterior motive of actively sponsoring violent extremism.

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Zarif cited three central mechanisms by which the Saudis purportedly aimed to hinder Iranian advancement as: "pressuring the West; promoting regional instability through waging war in Yemen and sponsoring extremism; and directly provoking Iran."

He further indicated Saudi Arabian implication in international acts of terror by pointing out the Saudi Arabian nationality of one of the San Bernadino shooters. He added that terror organizations al-Qaida and al-Nusra Front are comprised of Saudi nationals and what he intimated were "petrodollar-financed demagogues."

Tensions heightened between the Shi'ite-led Iran and Sunni-governed Saudi Arabia after a January 2 attack on the Saudi consulate and embassy in Tehran in response to the execution of 47 prisoners, including Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a respected Shi'ite cleric in Saudi Arabia.

Zarif attributed the continued incitement of sectarian violence in Saudi Arabia to efforts of destabilization in the region.

The Iranian diplomat concluded his statement with an appeal to the Saudi Arabian government to take steps to contribute to regional stability by ceasing "its active sponsorship of violent extremism."

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