Saudis sup­port­ing mil­i­tants in­side Iran

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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

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