Saudis supporting militants inside Iran
OSLO: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said yesterday that Saudi Arabia was supporting militants inside Iran, days after hardline Sunni group, Islamic State, claimed attacks in Tehran.
Zarif also called on countries in the region to establish a regional forum to resolve conflicts.
Relations between the two neighbours are at their most tense in years. Last week Riyadh, along with other Arab governments, severed ties with Qatar, citing its support of Iran as one of the the main reasons.
Two days later, suicide bombings and shootings in Tehran killed 17 people. Iran repeated accusations that Saudi Arabia funds Islamist militants, including Islamic State. Riyadh has denied involvement in the attacks. “We have intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups on the eastern side of Iran, in Baluchistan,” Zarif said on the sidelines of a conference on peace in Oslo.
Baluchistan province is home to a Sunni population who form a minority in majority Shia Iran.
Iran and Saudi Arabia accuse each other of subverting regional security and support opposite sides in conflicts including those in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
“On the Western side, the same type of activity is being undertaken, again abusing the diplomatic hospitality of our other neighbour,” he said, without elaborating. Iran also accuses the US of promoting Islamist militancy in the region.
Zarif called for the establishment of a regional forum to resolve differences, amid the tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. “It is absolutely imperative… to establish a permanent mechanism for consultation, conversation and conflict resolution in our region, using some variation of the Helsinki approach,” said the foreign minister, in reference to the 1975 Helsinki Accords. “It worked at the height of the Cold War in Europe, it should work (for the Middle East too).”
Asked about US President Donald Trump’s take on Iran, which he brands as sponsoring terrorism, Zarif said most of the September 11 attackers were Saudi nationals, not Iranians – Reuters