Riyadh Should Choose Sectarianism or Stability

Riyadh Should Choose Sectarianism or StabilityRiyadh Should Choose Sectarianism or Stability

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday Saudi Arabia has to make "a critical choice" between continuing to support extremists and stoke sectarian hatred or promoting good neighborliness and regional stability.

Copies of the letter were sent to Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Iyad Ameen Madani and foreign ministers of several countries, IRNA reported.

Tensions in Tehran-Riyadh relations spiraled about a week ago following the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, which triggered protests across the region, including in Iran, where Saudi missions were ransacked and set on fire.

The dispute further deteriorated when the Saudi government, followed by some of its Arab allies, reacted with a decision next day to sever ties with Iran.

Zarif said Iran has "no desire or interest in escalation of tension in our neighborhood" and hopes Saudi Arabia will "heed the cause of reason."

He noted that from the first days of President Hassan Rouhani's election, Iran sent public and private signals to Saudi Arabia "about our readiness to engage in dialogue and accommodation to promote regional stability and combat destabilizing extremist violence."

"Iran has called for Islamic unity in the face of Saudi sectarian hate-mongering," he said.

  Delusional Hype

Zarif said Saudi Arabia is "spreading delusional hype about Iran" after failing to prevent or defeat the nuclear deal reached with world powers on July 14.

He denounced the Arab kingdom for producing or mis-educating many "extremist perpetrators of acts of terror," of supporting "extremist terrorists in Syria and elsewhere," and waging a "senseless war" in Yemen, AP reported.

Saudi authorities have engaged in "numerous direct and at times lethal provocations against Iran," the top diplomat said.

He cited Saudi bombers hitting Iranian diplomatic facilities in Yemen several times, including on April 24 and Sept. 18 last year and Jan. 7 of this year, "killing two local service personnel, injuring a number of Yemeni guards and inflicting damage to the buildings."

In the latest case, a Saudi-led airstrike hit the Iranian Embassy in Sana'a, over which the Islamic Republic vowed to lodge a complaint with the United Nations.

"An official report containing the details of the Saudi airstrike on the Iranian Embassy in Sana'a will be submitted to the United Nations within hours," Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday. The Saudi military issued a statement, dismissing the reports of the assault on the embassy.

"The coalition command confirmed that these allegations are false and void, stressing that it does not carry out any operations in the vicinity of the embassy or near it," the statement carried on the state Saudi news agency SPA said.

Zarif also denounced the Saudis for persistently mistreating hajj pilgrims, "fueling public outrage in Iran" and waging a "senseless aerial campaign targeting the people of Yemen" and of thwarting efforts to reach a ceasefire and begin political negotiations to end the conflict there.