Saudi and Iranian FMs take proxy war to the pages of the 'New York Times'

Saudi FM accuses Iran of supporting terror after Zarif had accused the Saudis of the same thing.

January 19, 2016 18:17
1 minute read.
US President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Salman

US President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Salman at the start of a bilateral meeting at Erga Palace in Riyadh. (photo credit: REUTERS)

After Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif penned an op-ed in The New York Times in which he slammed the Saudi monarchy earlier this month, Adel Bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, struck back with a Times op-ed of his own in which he painted the picture of an expansionist Iran, supporting terrorism in the region and in the world.

Jubeir said that while, "superficially, Iran may appear to have changed," with its agreement to suspend its program to develop a nuclear weapon, in all actuality the Iranian government is continuing with its same policies that have been in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"The constitution that Iran adopted states the objective of exporting the revolution," Jubeir said. "As a consequence, Iran has supported violent extremist groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and sectarian militias in Iraq," he added, listing atrocities attributed to Iran that have been carried out around the world over the last 36 years.

Jubeir lambasted Iran for its support of Syrian despot Bashar Assad and its action in Syria that "helps the Islamic State flourish."

"Iran is the single-most-belligerent-actor in the region, and its actions display both a commitment to regional hegemony and a deeply held view that conciliatory gestures signal weakness either on Iran’s part or on the part of its adversaries," he charged.

Saudi Arabia and Iran's rocky relationship took a turn for the worse in early January after the Saudis executed a prominent Shi'ite cleric in the Kingdom. Angry Iranian mobs then attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran, leadinng the Saudi Arabia to cut diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.

On January 11, Zarif accused the Saudis of trying to drag the entire region into conflict in a New York Times op-ed.

Zarif said that Saudi funding was behind much of the terrorism in the region, including the terror groups al-Qaida and the Nusra Front in Syria.

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