Iran is now settling scores with Saudi Arabia on The New York Times

Published: September 14, 2016
Mohammad Javad Zarif. PHOTO: AFP

Mohammad Javad Zarif. PHOTO: AFP

For the first time in nearly three decades, Iran’s 64,000 pilgrims are not attending the hajj in Saudi Arabia after the two regional rivals failed to agree on security and logistics.

The deadlock hasn’t gone down well with Iran. Just days before this year’s hajj, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei questioned Saudi Arabia’s right to manage Islam’s holiest sites.

His statements led to mutual accusations throughout last week.

And while Saudi King Salman on Tuesday rejected any attempt to play politics with the Hajj, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javed Zarif has doubled down with a scathing opinion piece in The New York Times.

The NYT piece titled ‘Mohammed Javad Zarif: Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism‘ (yes, the headline carries his name) denounced Riyadh for promulgating Wahhabism across the region and called for an abolition of that ideology.

Zarif said “tainted petrodollars” are helping to fuel a narrative which is attempting to convince the world that the former al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group in Syria has now become a moderate group. This, he charged, is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to continuously support and fund such forces.

He claimed Riyadh’s actions were “based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran.”

Zarif said Riyadh is playing up fears of an Iranian threat in order to justify its continued support to dangerous Islamist groups across the region, which he stressed are as big a threat to Sunni Arabs as they are to Shias.

The Wahhabist ideology which Riyadh has promoted for decades, Zarif argued, has inspired, “virtually every terrorist group abusing the name of Islam – from Al Qaeda and its offshoots in Syria to Boko Haram in Nigeria.”

Interestingly, Zarif concluded his article by suggesting Riyadh could possibly be part of solution (of getting rid of Wahhabism).

“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,” he wrote.

Social media users weren’t kind to the Iranian leader, with some pointing out how Iran is equally guilty of sponsoring terrorism in the region.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • OSD
    Sep 15, 2016 - 2:04AM

    It is surprising to note that Iran has become the new best friend of the Americans. But a look at the oil market might explain this. When the oil production started to ramp up in America, the price of oil fell drastically. The Saudis, instead of cutting production, chose to maintain the supply. Their calculations were that a lower price will drive the American producers out of the market. Lo and behold, suddenly the Iranians have been brought back into the mainstream and Saudia has been sidelined. Somebody didn’t play ball.Recommend

  • Farooq khan
    Sep 15, 2016 - 8:28AM

    Iranian clergy could be just as radical as Saudies. But Iranians are so much educated and civilised with great numbers and depth of scholars, that a dialogue with them and cooperation with them can certainly lead to stability in the region. Iran has no such threats that Saudi monarchy perceive to their eternal right to rule.Recommend

  • Larosh
    Sep 15, 2016 - 12:59PM

    @Farooq khan:
    The biggest fear Iran is facing is the Thousands of Liberal Iranian’s running away from persecution by Khumeni. Khumeni thinks he has the ultimate right to rule that is why he is called the Supreme leader. Even the President of Iran is no match for his power.Recommend

  • Mike
    Sep 15, 2016 - 5:20PM

    @Larosh: mate you even don’t know that Khumeyni passed away more than 25 years ago. If you meant the current Iran’s leader, you better go and study how he has been elected and what authority he has by their constitution. Seems you are watching Foxnews and CNN like press too muchRecommend

  • Khoshal Khan
    Sep 16, 2016 - 12:27AM

    God Bless Pakistan, with close ties to Saudi Arabia, once the fastest growing economy is now the worst country on the face of this planet. why, choosing Saudi Arabia, Wahabism, the exporter of hate and killings. read about the Grozny Chechniya scholars meeting where All the Sunni scholars exclude Wahabis from Sunnism. its the Wahabism, the Britiesh inveted this sect to finish all the Muslims. Recommend

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