Iran’s UN ambassador rebukes “baseless allegations” made by Saudi deputy crown prince, accusing regional rival of threatening the Islamic Republic.
Iran issued a formal protest letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday after barbed comments from Saudi Arabia this week accusing its regional rival of seeking to “control the Islamic world.”
Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday in a rare interview that there is no prospect for dialogue with Shia rival Iran due to its “extremist ideology.”
The prince also said that “we are not waiting until there becomes a battle in Saudi Arabia, so we will work so that it becomes a battle for them in Iran.”
Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, responded angrily to the remarks, issuing a two-page letter on Thursday at a Security Council meeting chastising the comments as an “unveiled threat.”
“While categorically rejecting the baseless allegations against my country, I wish to underline that his statement reflects an unveiled threat against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mr. Khoshroo’s letter said, according to the New York Times.
He said the Saudi prince’s comments violated Article 2 of the UN Charter which requires all members to refrain from “the threat or use of force” against the territorial integrity or independence of other states.
Khoshroo also accused Saudi Arabia of involvement in terrorist attacks inside Iran, accusing the country of having a “long record of supporting aggression and using terrorist and extremist groups for its shortsighted and dangerous ambitions in the region and beyond.”
Despite the angry rebuke, the Iranian ambassador added that “we have no desire, nor any interest, in an escalation of tension in our neighbourhood,” and the Islamic Republic is ready for dialogue to reject “sectarian hatred” in the region.
Iran and Saudi Arabia’s rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region. They back opposite sides of the wars in Syria and Yemen, and support political rivals in Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq. The conflicts have deepened Sunni-Shia enmity between hard-liners on both sides.
Ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained since Iran’s 1979 revolution, with each side competing to be the more powerful force in the Muslim world.
Tensions escalated last year. Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Saudi Shia cleric sparked the ransacking of the Saudi Embassy in Iran by protesters. The two countries severed diplomatic and trade ties.