Iran’s top leader said Monday the United States is pushing Saudi Arabia into a war against Iran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on his website that the “Americans are trying to put Saudis and some other regional countries before Iran. If they are wise, they should not be deceived by the US.”
Khamenei accused the US of waging economic war against his country. He met with thousands of workers on the eve of Labor Day and urged Iranians to boost their economy by buying locally manufactured products and services.
He also said the time when Iran’s enemies could “hit and run” was over.
“They know if they enter military conflict with Iran, they will be hit multiple times,” he said.
He did not specifically refer to an overnight missile attack on Syrian targets that media reports said killed over a dozen members of Iran’s military. Iran denied that any of its soldiers were killed in the attacks and that any of its bases in Syria were targeted. It was not clear who carried out the strike, although some media reports blamed Israel, while others suggested it was a joint US-UK attack launched from Jordan.
Syrian President Bashar Assad called the predawn strikes on a military base that reportedly killed mostly Iranian soldiers “direct aggression against Syria.”
The Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet Al-Akhbar said that Assad made the remarks Monday during a meeting with Iranian military officials in Damascus.
Israel has not commented on the strikes.
The supreme leader lashed out at the US for waging an economic campaign against Iran in what he said were efforts to create regional schisms.
Iran remains largely cut off from international financial networks because of US sanctions. The local currency has plummeted against the dollar, driven down in part by fears the Trump administration will withdraw from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and impose new sanctions.
“Today, US Treasury Department is the operations room of war against Iran so we have to boost our economy,” he said according to a report from the Almana website.
US President Donald Trump — a fierce opponent of the nuclear agreement signed by Tehran and international powers — must declare if he will essentially walk away from the existing deal when the renewal deadline arrives on May 12, or stay in. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed between Iran and the US, Britain, France, China, Russia, and German, saw stiff economic sanctions lifted from Iran in return for the dismantling of the weapons-capable aspects of its nuclear program. Trump has recently met with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss reforming the deal.
In further comments, published to his official Twitter feed, Khamenei said the “US’s plan is to provoke some ignorant governments, with little wisdom, in our own region, to confront the Islamic Republic. If these government officials gain some wisdom, they won’t confront the Islamic Republic; but, if they stand against Iran, they will certainly suffer from defeat.”
Tensions between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have been rising and both are backing opposing sides in the Yemeni civil war.
“US officials agitate Saudis, creating discord and chaos in West Asia,” Khamenei said. “Why don’t you agitate the Zionists? Because they [the US] want to turn Muslims against one another; thus, avoiding the burden of an outcome from confronting the Islamic Republic and the powerful Iranian nation.”
Iran has repeatedly warned the US to not pull out of the nuclear deal.
In January, Trump kept the deal alive by waiving sanctions against Iran as required by the pact every six months. But he said flatly it would be the last time he did that unless serious changes were made to the accord.
He specifically called for three major “fixes”: amending the sunset clauses, banning Iran’s capacity to test ballistic missiles and granting inspectors greater access to Iran’s military sites.
Khamenei also said Iran was keen to develop ties with the rest of the world, which is “not merely” the United States and European countries.
“I don’t believe in cutting ties with the world but relying on the outside of the borders is a mistake within a mistake,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.
“We must certainly be wise, smart and resolute in our relations with the world, but we should also know that the world is not merely America and several European countries. The world is big and (we) must have relations with different countries,” he added.