Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has rejected Saudi officials’ anti-Iran remarks, saying Riyadh cannot conceal its black record of promoting extremism and supporting terrorism through playing a blame game.
“Those who have put … the name of their country on the list of aggressors and criminals and have been put at the same level with other aggressors and dictators like [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein] should know that they cannot turn a blind eye to realities by raising baseless and groundless allegations against Iran,” Qassemi said on Wednesday.
He added that the Saudi role in supporting and arming terrorist and extremist groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh would not sink into oblivion.
The Saudi regime cannot hide its true color and whitewash its “black record” by spending billions of dollars to win the support of certain regional countries, Qassemi said, adding that Saudi officials needed to review history especially the fate of their long-time regional ally Saddam Hussein.
Riyadh cannot change its fate by playing a blame game, buying security or supporting terrorist groups, the Iranian official added.
“The current Saudi rulers, along with the Zionist regime, have become the symbols of crime and aggression in the Middle East and they have added up to instability and regional woes by interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries of the region,” Qassemi said.
He said some Saudi leaders in the past, with their rash policies such as their unwavering support for Saddam, the creation and support of al-Qaeda, Daesh and other terrorist groups, invasion of Yemen, and now seeking alliance with the Zionist regime, have subjected the Middle East to increasing tension, instability and wars.
Qassemi was reacting to Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iran allegations made during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to France.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed hope that France must have reminded the Saudi leaders of the fate of previous Middle East dictators and aggressors in the region.
During a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday, the Saudi prince accused Tehran of supporting terrorism in the region and working toward spreading its ideology.
Macron, for his part, said there remained differences with Riyadh over the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, but said the two countries saw eye to eye on the need to "limit Iran's ballistic activity and regional expansionism."
The Saudi Crown Prince and the French president also said that they had agreed on the need to curb what they called “Iran’s expansion in the Middle East.”
The two leaders were meeting at the conclusion of bin Salman’s three-day official visit to Paris.
Speaking to reporters after talks in Paris, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also said he believed France, Britain and Germany agreed that Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional activities had to be addressed, adding that curbing Iran’s regional actions could no longer wait. He also accused Iran of supporting terrorism.
The anti-Iran accusations come as Saudi Arabia was France's second-biggest client for both arms deliveries and new arms orders in 2016, according to official data.
The French administration under Macron has drawn criticism in particular from rights groups over its support of the kingdom’s actions and allowing weapons it has sold to Riyadh potentially to be used in its Yemen operations.
During his news conference with bin Salman, Macron defended French weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen despite mounting pressure on the French leader to scale back arms support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, an ally of Riyadh in the Yemen war.
Meanwhile, the Legal Center for Rights and Development (LCRD), a human rights group based in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in a Paris court against bin Salman, accusing him of complicity in torture and inhumane treatment in Yemen.
“He ordered the first bombings on Yemeni territory on March 25, 2015,” the group’s lawyer said in the complaint seen by Reuters.
“The existence of indiscriminate shelling by the coalition armed forces affecting civilian populations in Yemen can be qualified as acts of torture,” they wrote.