Riyadh Told to Stop Sowing Seeds of Regional Insecurity

Iran believes that arms depots cannot buy security because security and tranquility hinges on the participation of people in politics
Ali ShamkhaniAli Shamkhani

Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani recommended Saudi Arabia to stop wasting  its oil revenue on provoking insecurity in the region, at a time when the world, more than ever, needs to curb extremism and violence.

Shamkhani made the statement on arrival in the Russian capital, where he is representing Iran in a three-day security conference on terrorism, IRNA reported.

"Some countries [referring to Saudi Arabia], with a bad record in supporting terrorism, spend petrodollars on turning the region into a depot for western weapons and spreading the seeds of insecurity and violence.

"The Islamic Republic believes that arms depots will never buy security ... the security of countries hinges on broader participation of the people in politics and shaping political structures," he said.  

Shamkhani was responding to highly dangerous and provocative statements by Saudi King Salman, who claimed on Sunday Iran is the "tip of the spear of global terrorism".

Iran and Saudi Arabia are at odds over key regional issues, and have not had diplomatic relations since early 2016.

The aging Salman, under whose watch the Arab kingdom has become extremely aggressive and hostile toward Tehran, described Iran as a mutual foe and a "source of terrorism the US and the kingdom must confront together."

He was speaking to a summit of more than 50 majority-Muslim countries and the US in Riyadh, attended by US President Donald Trump who was on a tour of the kingdom and Israel in his first visit overseas as president.  

Speaking after the king, Trump vilified Iran as the greatest source of instability in the Middle East that fuels "the fires of sectarian conflict and terror".

"From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region," Trump alleged, calling for further "isolation" of Iran until it is willing "to be a partner for peace".

During Trump's visit to Riyadh, the two countries signed a giant list of deals, worth a total of $380 billion, including $110 billion for weapons sales to the oil kingdom.

  Strong Reaction

The anti-Iran rhetoric in the summit by Trump and the Saudi ruler drew a strong reaction from Tehran.

One came Tuesday from Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, who noted the irony that the claim about Iran's support for terrorism was made in the birthplace of extremist Wahhabism.

Larijani said Saudi Arabia has been busy for decades exporting hatred and toxic ideologies to the world that spawn terror.

"If the US manages to stop the flow of funds, weapons and militants from Saudi Arabia to other regions of the world, no more towers would be blown up in New York again [referring to the 9/11 attacks] and thousands of innocent people in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon would not die", he said in an open session of parliament.

Many terrorist groups operating in the region, including the self-styled Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, are influenced by Wahhabism, an extreme ideological strand of Islam officially preached by Saudi clerics with blessings from the house of Saud.

Newly reelected President Hassan Rouhani took swipes at the US and its Saudi ally on Monday, describing the Saudi summit a "show-off" that "does not have any political or practical significance."

"The issue of terrorism cannot be solved by giving money to the superpowers," Rouhani said, adding that regional stability cannot be restored without Iran.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reacted sarcastically, tweeting on Monday Trump's remarks were aimed at "milking" Saudi Arabia.

"Iran —fresh from real elections— is attacked by [Trump] in that bastion of democracy and moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA...?" Zarif tweeted on Sunday, referring to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi called on Trump to abandon the destructive West Asia policies of his predecessors that are "reinvigorating terrorists in the region".

"Washington should end its policy of warmongering, meddling, [spreading] Iranophobia and selling dangerous weapons to the main patrons of terrorism," Qasemi said in a statement on Monday.

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