Iran says Saudi Arabia, Israel working to damage country
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Iran says Saudi Arabia, Israel working to damage country

Spokesman says regime concerned about attempts to create 'international atmosphere' against Tehran

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi briefs journalists at a press conference in Tehran on August 22, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi briefs journalists at a press conference in Tehran on August 22, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)

Iran on Monday criticized what it said was coordination between Israel and Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, describing attempts to create an “international atmosphere” against Tehran.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the two countries “imagine they can compensate for their numerous defeats and failures in the region by creating an international atmosphere against our country.”

The alignment is “not accidental,” he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

“It’s unfortunate that this occupying regime [of Israel] is counting on the coordination and collaboration of an Islamic country to further its perpetual anti-Iranian policies,” Ghasemi said.

Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of fueling regional conflicts by supporting armed Shiite movements in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.

Iran rejects the accusations and says Riyadh must stop its support for Sunni terrorists like the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump in Washington last week that there were “broader conditions for broad peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab countries.”

Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar do not have diplomatic relations with Israel — although that does not prevent them from sharing informal links.

On Sunday Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference that the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian accord were clear, and that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states would work to bring it to fruition.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, speaks on the last day of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Sunday Feb. 19, 2017. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, speaks on the last day of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Sunday Feb. 19, 2017. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)

“I believe progress can be made in the Arab-Israel conflict, if there is a will to do so,” he said. “We know what the settlement looks like, if there is just the political will to do so. And my country stands ready with other Arab countries to work to see how we can promote that.”

He said the new US administration made him optimistic that this and other regional challenges could be resolved.

“We see a president who’s pragmatic and practical, a businessman, problem-solver, a man who’s not an ideologue,” Jubeir said of Trump.

“He wants America to play a role in the world. Our view is that when America disengages, it creates tremendous danger in the worlds, because it leaves vacuums, and into those vacuums evil forces flow,” he added, in an apparent reference to Iran and its proxies.

Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has gone on record pushing for cooperation between the Jewish state and Sunni Arab nations to oppose Iran.

Ahead of the Trump-Netanyahu meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration was working to create a military alliance of Sunni Arab nations that would share intelligence with Israel and the US to counter the rising threat of Iran.

The NATO-like mutual defense pact would include Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other nations, according to a report last Wednesday.

The concern about Shiite Iran’s expansionist aspirations unites those nations, and the goal is to create a pact whereby an attack on one of them would be treated as an act of aggression against all of them, according to five unnamed sources said to be involved in the ongoing discussions on behalf of those nations.

Neither the US nor Israel would be directly part of the pact, but both would provide intelligence and backing to the group.

“They’ve been asking diplomatic missions in Washington if we’d be willing to join this force that has an Israeli component,” according to one of the diplomats. “Israel’s role would likely be intelligence sharing, not training or boots on the ground. They’d provide intelligence and targets. That’s what the Israelis are good at.”

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