MPs Chastise Riyadh’s Divisive Role

MPs Chastise Riyadh’s Divisive Role MPs Chastise Riyadh’s Divisive Role

Lawmakers believe recent outrageous remarks by the Saudi ambassador in Baghdad, Thamer al-Sabhan, which sparked a call by Iraqi officials for his expulsion, are in line with Riyadh's wider destabilizing and divisive regional policy.

Iraqi Shia politicians have made persistent calls that Sabhan be expelled in reaction to comments he made about Iran's involvement in Iraq and claims that Shia militias backed by Tehran were exacerbating tensions with Sunnis.

Last month, Iraq's Foreign Ministry denied media reports of a plot to kill Sabhan, the first Saudi ambassador appointed after the reopening of the Saudi Embassy in the Iraqi capital in December.

Iran provides military advice to the Iraqi Army and popular forces to help them in the campaign against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, which has overrun vast swathes of land in northern and eastern Iraq.

Morteza Saffari, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, accused Saudi Arabia of pursuing an interventionist policy in Iraq.

"Saudi attempts to deepen political rifts in Baghdad and their covert support for Daesh [an Arabic acronym for IS] is a painful issue for Iraq. As long as Riyadh insists on its interventionist and divisive approach, Baghdad-Riyadh ties will not improve," he told ICANA on Tuesday.

Saffari warned the Saudis that their backing for terrorism and violence in the region will ultimately backfire.

Ardeshir Nourian, another lawmaker, said the Saudi foreign policy revolves around attempts to inflame discord.

"Accordingly, the Saudi ambassador in Baghdad intends to create differences between Iran and Iraq," he said.

  Interventionist Agenda

Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, a member of parliament, said Sabhan's comments were a violation of Iraq's territorial integrity.

"The Saudi envoy has been serving as an intelligence agent and a military element following an interventionist agenda that has targeted Iraqi territorial integrity," he said.

The legislator's reaction came a day after the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei blamed Saudi rulers for their role in regional conflicts.

"The seditious rulers, who by forming and arming evil takfiri groups, have plunged the world of Islam into civil wars, murdering and injuring the innocent and shedding their blood in Yemen, Iraq, the Levant, Libya and other countries. The faithless politicians, who have extended the hand of friendship toward the Zionist regime, have closed their eyes on the Palestinians' sufferings and heartrending tragedies, and are spreading their oppression and betrayal to the cities and villages of Bahrain," the Leader said in a statement while describing the Saudi rulers.

Tensions in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia escalated after protestors outraged by Riyadh's execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr stormed the Saudi missions in Tehran and Mashhad in January.

The move prompted the kingdom to cut diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.

Saudi allies, including Bahrain, Sudan and Djibouti, followed suit, while Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan recalled their envoys to Tehran and the UAE downgraded ties.

Tehran says Saudi Arabia has used the attack on its diplomatic posts as an "excuse" to sever ties and further increase sectarian tensions in the already tumultuous region.