Iran’s foreign minister says the Saudis have long spent their petrodollars to export the extremist Wahhabi ideology, a “death cult” inspiring terror groups, emphasizing that the regime cannot continue to play the “Iran card” to keep its allies on board in this “folly.”
In a New York Times op-ed published on Wednesday, Mohammad Javad Zarif said virtually every terrorist group wreaking havoc in the Middle East and Africa in the name of Islam is in fact inspired by Wahhabism, an “ideology of hate and extremism” widely preached in Saudi Arabia.
The top Iranian diplomat stressed that “much of the violence committed in the name of Islam can be traced to Wahhabism.”
Saudi Arabia has been successful in having its Western allies back its push to destabilize the Middle East “based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran,” he wrote.
So far, the Saudis have been playing the “Iran card” to induce “their allies to go along with their folly, whether in Syria or Yemen,” said Zarif, emphasizing, however, that “this will surely change, as the realization grows that Riyadh’s persistent sponsorship of extremism repudiates its claim to be a force for stability.”
Over the past years, Riyadh, backed by its regional and Western allies, has been providing generous ideological and financial support to the extremist terrorist groups operating on Syrian soil to topple the legitimate government in Damascus, an ally of Iran.
The top Iranian diplomat went on to say that certain Saudi parties have been trying to rebrand the terrorist outfits as “moderates” so they could overtly assist such groups with the backing of Westerners and regional patrons.
As a case in point, he referred to Saudi attempts to portray the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria as a “moderate” militant group through public relations stunts. The group recently claimed it was splitting from al-Qaeda and renamed itself to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
Zarif warned, however, that the persisting brutality of such groups “can’t be photoshopped out of existence.”
The Iranian top diplomat also referred to the kingdom leading its allies, including some Persian Gulf Arab states, into its deadly March 2015-present war on Yemen aimed at undermining the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which Riyadh claims receives “Iranian support.”
“The world cannot afford to sit by and witness Wahhabists targeting not only Christians, Jews and Shiites but also Sunnis. With a large section of the Middle East in turmoil, there is a grave danger that the few remaining pockets of stability will be undermined by this clash of Wahhabism and mainstream Sunni Islam,” Zarif wrote.
As a cure, Zarif urged “coordinated action at the United Nations to cut off the funding for ideologies of hate and extremism, and a willingness from the international community to investigate the channels that supply the cash and the arms.”
The Iranian minister, meanwhile, said Saudi Arabia could still be part of a solution to the chaos plaguing the region.
“We invite Saudi rulers to put aside the rhetoric of blame and fear, and join hands with the rest of the community of nations to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and violence that threatens us all.”