Iran on Sunday criticized the participation of a Saudi prince and former intelligence chief in an Iranian opposition rally in Paris.
Over 100,000 Iranians have rallied in a grand gathering in Paris to voice their demand for regime change in Iran, while Saudi prince Turki al-Faisal was present and supported them calling for the downfall of Iranian regime.
The report by the state-owned IRNA news agency quotes an unnamed official as saying that Prince Turki al-Faisal’s participation in the rally backed by the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran demonstrated Saudi’s “political impudence and stupidity.” It also accuses Saudi Arabia of sponsoring terrorism.
Ramazan Sharif, spokesman for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, said Prince Turki’s participation in the rally demonstrated “longstanding ties” between Saudi Arabia and MEK. He also accused Saudi of giving “support to terrorism in the region and beyond.”
In remarks aired by the Saudi-owned broadcaster Al-Arabiya, Prince Turki, the former director of Saudi intelligence, told the Paris gathering that he supported the toppling of the Iranian government.
Prince Turki currently holds no official capacity within Saudi’s government, but his comments are widely seen as reflective of the government’s thinking.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran is the political affiliate of the exiled Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group.
Prince Turki chronicled the history of friendship and cooperation between the Arab and Persian peoples, highlighting the cultural, religious and linguistic links they shared. He suggested that the current tensions between Iran and Arab countries were exceptional in a history of otherwise cordial relations, singling out the current regime as being responsible for the tensions due to its continued interference in Arab affairs.
Prince Turki received more than one standing ovation during his speech and, at one point, members of the audience interrupted his speech to Arabic chants of “the people want the downfall of the regime,” which had become the slogan of the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011. To that, Prince Turki responded: “I, too, want the downfall of the regime”.
A number of people in the audience carried Iraqi and Syrian opposition flags, while others flew pre-1979 Iranian flags featuring a lion and sun.
Concluding his speech, Prince Turki vowed to stand by the Iranian opposition in its efforts to remove what he called the “Khomeini cancer”, referring to the founder of the Islamic Republic, and said that the Iranian opposition’s struggle would go down in history as did the Shahnameh, the Book of Kings by renowned Persian poet Ferdowsi.
— Iran Arab Spring (@IranArabSpring) July 9, 2016