Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (L) and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir address the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 19, 2017.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI/DEFENSE MINISTRY/REUTERS)
Iran on Monday rejected Israeli and Saudi claims that the Islamic Republic was a destabilizing force in the region, saying that it came as no surprise that Jerusalem and Riyadh share the same views.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi made the comments after both Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir each said at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that Iran constitutes a threat to each of their countries, has not moderated its behavior in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal and should face renewed economic pressure from the international community.
While the Israeli and Saudi ministers stopped short of saying they would cooperate to thwart Iran, Qassemi said that Jerusalem and Riyadh are already working "hand in glove" in the Middle East and their matching assessments given on Sunday came as no surprise.
“The parallelism between the positions of the Saudi foreign minister and the Israeli war minister on Iran is not coincidental. Many instances of evidence indicate coordination between the two regimes in regional cases,” Iranian official news agency Press TV quoted Qassemi as saying.
Saudi accuses Iran of undermining regional security
The Iranian official said that Liberman's and Jubeir's claims against Iran reflected their countries' "painful desperation."
“Both regimes think they should stir the international atmosphere against Iran as a means of making up for their multitudinous defeats and frustrations in the region,” he charged.
Qassemi said that Israel's attempts to enlist a Muslim country in its efforts against Iran were "pathetic."
In addition to Liberman and Jubeir, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif also spoke at Sunday's Munich Security Conference.
While Liberman called for an alliance with Sunni states, Jubeir did not directly respond when asked if he envisions a coalition with Israel against Tehran.
Jubeir, who spoke after Liberman and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlet Cavusoglu, pointedly rejected a new Iranian call for a dialogue with Sunni Arab Gulf states, telling the conference that the Islamic Republic is trying to “upend the order” in the Middle East and seeks the destruction of Saudi Arabia.
“The Iranians speak of wanting to turn a new page, wanting to look forward, not backward. This is great, but what about the present?” he asked. “We can’t ignore what they are doing in the region. We can’t ignore their constitution which calls for the export of the revolution. How can one deal with a nation whose intent is to destroy us?”
Liberman, meanwhile, accused Iran of trying to undermine Saudi Arabia and termed Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, “the No.1 terrorist in the world.”
“If you ask me, ‘What is the biggest news in the Middle East?’ I think that [for] the first time since 1948 the moderate Arab world, Sunni world, understands that the biggest threat for them is not Israel, not Jews and not Zionism, but Iran and Iranian proxies,” Liberman said, pointing to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and the Houthi militia in Yemen.Ben Lynfield and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.