NEW YORK (AA) – Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat on Wednesday accused Iran of attempting to conceal its “dangerous sectarian and expansionist policies” and “support for terrorism” by leveling unsubstantiated charges against his country.
The Islamic Republic has supported violent extremist groups in the region for decades as part of its long-standing “objective of exporting the revolution”, said Adel al-Jubeir in an opinion letter published on The New York Times website.
The foreign minister’s comments came on the heels of Iran’s release from international nuclear-related sanctions following an announcement that the country fulfilled its obligations under a deal to restrict its atomic program. The move could restore Iran’s access to world markets.
“The world is watching Iran for signs of change, hoping it will evolve from a rogue revolutionary state into a respectable member of the international community,” al-Jubeir said.
“But Iran, rather than confronting the isolation it has created for itself, opts to obscure its dangerous sectarian and expansionist policies, as well as its support for terrorism, by leveling unsubstantiated charges against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Friction between the regional rivals skyrocketed earlier this month when Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others, which led to protests in Iran and the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. In a Jan. 10 op-ed published in the same newspaper, Iran’s foreign minister harshly criticized what he called “Saudi Arabia’s reckless extremism” and “barbarism”.
Javad Zarif said perpetrators of many terrorist acts from 9/11 attacks to San Bernardino shootings, as well as members of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Nusra Front, “have been either Saudi nationals or brainwashed by petrodollar-financed demagogues”.
“The barbarism is clear. At home, state executioners sever heads with swords, as in the recent execution of 47 prisoners in one day, including Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr”, wrote Zarif.
Al-Jubeir responded to the claims in the newspaper. 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 said.
“In an outlandish lie, Iran maligns and offends all Saudis by saying that my nation, home of the two holy mosques, brainwashes people to spread extremism”, according to al-Jubeir.
“We are not the country designated a state sponsor of terrorism; Iran is. We are not the nation under international sanctions for supporting terrorism; Iran is. We are not the nation whose officials are on terrorism lists; Iran is,” he added.
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