Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says some in Saudi Arabia are determined to drag the entire Middle East into confrontation.
In an OP-ED for the New York Times published on Sunday, Zarif said that Riyadh’s “active sponsorship of violent extremism” is a global threat.
Zarif noted that many acts of terror, “from the horrors of Sept. 11 to the shooting in San Bernardino and other episodes of extremist carnage in between,” and almost all al-Qaeda and its affiliate al-Nusra Front group members are either Saudi nationals or have been brainwashed by the kingdom’s message of hatred and sectarianism.
The recent mass execution of 47 people, including Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, clearly shows Saudi Arabia’s “barbarism,” he added.
“Saudi Arabia seems to fear that the removal of the smoke screen of the nuclear issue will expose the real global threat: its active sponsorship of violent extremism. 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, a respected religious scholar who devoted his life to promoting nonviolence and civil rights. Abroad, masked men sever heads with knives.”
Iran’s foreign minister also accused Saudi Arabia of attempting to “derail” the JCPOA—the agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 – the United States, Britain, Russia, China, France, and Germany – in Vienna on July 14, 2015.
He also condemned the targeting of Iranian diplomatic facilities in Yemen, the systematic harassment of Iranian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia as well as Riyadh’s negligence which resulted in the death of hundreds of Iranians during last year’s Hajj rituals in Mina.
He added that Iran has “no desire to escalate tension in the region” and that unity is required to deal with the threat of extremism.
“The Saudi leadership must now make a choice: They can continue supporting extremists and promoting sectarian hatred; or they can opt to play a constructive role in promoting regional stability. We hope that reason will prevail.”
The OP-ED was published after ties between Tehran and Riyadh was severed in the wake of Nimr’s execution.