‘Iran’s efforts in vain if Saudi hostilities continue’ says foreign minister

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran’s efforts to improve ties with Saudi Arabia will lead nowhere if Riyadh is unwilling to reduce tensions between the countries, Tasnim News Agency reported.

The developments in Syria is one major issue that has strained relations between Tehran and Riyadh in recent years. While Iran has been providing essential military supplies to Bashar al-Assad and also assisting pro-government militias, Saudi Arabia has been backing Islamic fundamentalist groups within the opposition.

Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen is another key issue of tension. “We want Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf littoral states to stand stable and want the war in Yemen to stop,” Zarif said on Wednesday. The foreign minister claimed that “certain countries, specially Saudi Arabia, believe their interests lie in tension.”

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany in February, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused Tehran for being the main sponsor of terrorism in the world and a destabilising force in the Middle East.

Behram Qasimi, the spokesperson of Iran’s foreign ministry, responded by saying, “the Saudi foreign minister’s accusation of terrorism funding is a comical claim, none of these will make anyone forget about the Saudi regime’s spiritual, educational and financial relations with the murderous Takfiri terrorists.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited several Gulf countries in February with the objective of dialogue between Sunnis and Shiites who, according to the president, were divided by “fake distances created by foreign powers”.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Baghdad last week, following Rouhani’s trip, in a bid to balance the political dynamics in the region.

“The whole region is heading towards compromise and Saudi Arabia sees Iraq as an important player to have on its side,” an Iraqi government official said about the visit, “Iraq’s neutrality could make it a ground for Iranian-Saudi rapprochement.”