As tensions remain high between Tehran and Riyadh, a top Iranian general has warned that Saudi Arabia’s regional policies could lead to its imminent collapse.
The Saudi regime “will collapse in the near future if it keeps on its sectarian policies in the region,” deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami said, according to the Fars news agency.
Riyadh’s execution last Saturday of a prominent Shiite cleric unleashed a wave of anger across the Shiite world, most prominently in Iran.
“The Saudi rulers will be buried under the avalanche that they have created,” Salami said Friday.
He echoed comments made on Monday by Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, who said that “By adopting terroristic and inhuman policies, the [Saudi] regime will not achieve enhanced security. On the contrary it will face imminent downfall.”
Cleric Nimr al-Nimr was executed along with 46 other prisoners who Riyadh said were “terrorists.”
In response, protesters in Iran stormed and set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in the second city of Mashhad.
The repercussions quickly rippled across the region and beyond with Saudi allies Bahrain, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan following Riyadh’s example and cutting diplomatic ties with Tehran. The United Arab Emirates has downgraded relations with Iran, while Kuwait and Qatar have recalled their ambassadors.
Iran hit back Thursday by announcing a ban on imports from the kingdom, which will reportedly affect goods worth about $40 million.
The festering diplomatic crisis between the Middle East’s leading Sunni and Shiite Muslim powers has raised sectarian tensions across the region and complicated efforts to resolve conflicts in Syria and Yemen — two countries in which the two rivals support opposing sides.
Relations between the longtime adversaries hit a fresh low Thursday when Iran accused Saudi warplanes of deliberately targeting its embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, damaging the property and seriously wounding a security guard.
The Saudi-led coalition battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen denied carrying out an attack and insisted the diplomatic mission was “safe,” but Tehran said it would take the matter to the UN Security Council.
Around 1,000 Iranian protestors marched through Tehran on Friday chanting “death to Al-Saud” — Riyadh’s ruling family.
AFP contributed to this report.