Iran slams Arab League, says Saudis 'following' Israeli policies in region
AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar
Iran on Monday dismissed as "worthless" a resolution by Arab League foreign ministers that accused the Islamic republic of "aggression" against Arab states and accused Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, of playing into Israel's policies in the region.
"The solution to the region's problems, many of which are down to Saudi Arabia's sterile policy, is not to publish such worthless statements but to stop following the policies of the Zionist regime (Israel) which seeks to stoke divisions," the ISNA news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi as saying.
He accused Riyadh of "following the policy of the Zionist regime... that seeks to divert attention from the main issue, namely the occupation of Palestine".
On Sunday, the Arab League held an extraordinary general meeting in Cairo, at the request of Saudi Arabia, as tensions soar between the regional arch-rivals, including over League member Lebanon.
While the resolution delivered a strong rebuke of Iran, it offered little concrete action other than a decision to ban Iranian-financed television stations from broadcasting via Arab satellites over content promoting sectarian and ethnic tensions.
Saudi Arabia warned at the Sunday meeting that it would not stand idly by in the face of Iranian "aggression", as Bahrain slammed the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement as a "terrorist party" that was "in total control" of Lebanon.
Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shiite power in the region, have for decades stood on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East including in Syria and Yemen.
Boiling tensions between the two have resulted in fertile ground for shared interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel, who counts Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah among its greatest foes.
Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed during an interview with Army Radio on Sunday that Israel has had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia amid growing shared concerns over Iran’s ambitions.
It was the first public declaration of ties between the State of Israel and the Saudi Kingdom, which have never had diplomatic ties.
In another remarkable move, buttressing Steinitz rhetoric, Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot told the Saudi-owned Elaf newspaper that there is a “complete consensus” between Israel and Saudi Arabia on the issue of their mutual arch-rival.
He added that Jerusalem ready to share intelligence with moderate Arab countries if necessary, reiterating the “many common interests” between Israel and Saudi Arabia, vis-a-vis Iran.
Saudi Arabia's ambitious deputy ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, threw a match onto the tinderbox of Lebanese politics on November 4 with the reportedly engineered resignation of the country's prime minister, Saad Hariri, who was on an official visit to Riyadh.
The incident sparked speculation that the Saudis wanted Israel to launch an attack on Hezbollah.
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