Iran says it will not allow Saudi Arabia’s provocations to adversely affect ongoing efforts aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria.
“What we are [currently] witnessing in the arena of regional developments is Saudi Arabia’s agitating approach,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the visiting United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, in Tehran on Sunday.
“Saudi Arabia intends to leave a negative impact on Syria’s crisis through its escalating actions,” he said, adding, “We will not allow Saudi Arabia’s tension-generating approaches to leave a negative impact on [the efforts aimed at the] resolution of the Syria crisis.”
Zarif’s remarks come amid growing criticism of Saudi Arabia following the January 2 execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was a vocal critic of Riyadh’s policies, alongside 46 other people.
The execution has provoked widespread global backlash, including in Iran.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3 following demonstrations held in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad by angry protesters censuring the Al Saud family for the killing of Nimr. Some people mounted the walls of the consulate in Mashhad while incendiary devices were hurled at the embassy in Tehran. Some 60 people were detained over the transgression.
Bahraini protesters hold placards bearing portraits of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during clashes with riot police in the village of Sitra, south of the capital Manama, on January 8, 2016 (AFP photo).
It has also escalated already bubbling tensions in the region, threatening to derail peace efforts in Syria and Yemen.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people and left over one million injured since March 2011. The crisis has also displaced nearly half of the country’s population.
On December 18, 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution according to which an international road map was set for a peace process in Syria. The approval came after peace talks in Vienna, Austria.
Meeting with Zarif, the UN official presented a report on his latest efforts towards the implementation of what was agreed upon during the negotiations in the Austrian capital. The report also recounted the envoy’s bid to come up with a list of the parties, which should take part in future talks with the Syrian government.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always acted responsibly and constructively vis-à-vis crises,” said the Iranian minister.
Zarif said Tehran would not let Riyadh’s push “exacerbate the problems facing the people of Syria, Yemen, and Europe, which have [already] been compounded as a result of the downtrodden Syrians’ migration to the continent.”
Saudi Arabia started military attacks against Yemen in late March in a bid to undermine the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and bring its fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power. More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured in the attacks.
A UN-brokered ceasefire obliged the kingdom to halt the bombardments on December 15, 2015. The truce was, however, violated on a daily basis, with Yemenis blaming Riyadh for the breaches, and the Saudi regime declared it as void last Saturday.