February 12, 2014 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1068

Iran Calls For Violent Shi'ite Reaction Against Saudi Arabia

February 12, 2014 | By A. Savyon, Yossi Mansharof, E. Kharrazi, and Y. Lahat*
Saudi Arabia, Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1068


With the upsurge in attacks on Iranian interests, and on interests affiliated with Iran's proxies, in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, the Iranian leadership and its mouthpieces have launched a campaign of harsh criticism against the Saudi regime, accusing Saudi Arabia, and particularly Saudi security chief Bandar bin Sultan, of responsibility for attacks on Iran and on the resistance axis in the region. Iran's senior officials and media are calling the Saudi regime a takfiri (i.e. heretical) Wahhabi stream that is acting against Islam and the Muslims, in cooperation with the U.S, Israel, and Zionism.

It should be noted that the extreme language that Iran previously reserved for anti-Israel statements is now being used against Saudi Arabia.

Both Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rohani have indirectly accused what they call Saudi Arabia's collaboration with the West against Islam of harming Iran's interests across the Middle East, and have warned it that the Saudi protection of "takfiri circles" so that they can carry out operations against Iran in the region will ultimately backfire on it.

Another aspect of the attack on Saudi Arabia was religious in nature; senior Iranian ayatollahs called for labelling the Wahhabis enemies of the Muslims, collaborators with the infidels, or offshoots of the forces that abandoned God after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. They bolstering these claims by stating that these views have their roots in the Koran. Some even called for the issuing of a fatwa against the Wahhabis, while others called for Muslim forces to unite against them.

It should be stressed that clerics close to the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have issued a call to their fellow Shi'ite clerics in Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia – Sunni countries that are friendly to the Saudis – not to cooperate with the Wahhabis.

Among the onslaught of blunt anti-Saudi statements by representatives of the Iranian regime, Sobh-e Sadeq, the weekly publication of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and the Iranian daily Kayhan – both of which represent Iran's ideological stream – stood out with their call for reprisals on the ground against the Saudis. While Sobh-e Sadeq discussed the need for "a decisive and crushing response" and added that "Saudi mercenaries' assassination of Iranian diplomats allows Iran to reserve the right to carry out any kind of reprisal operation," Kayhan threatened Saudi Arabia, particularly its royal house, by calling for operations for "reining in the terrorism" and that these operations "should start on the streets leading to King 'Abdallah's palace in Riyadh "

Kayhan also hinted at terror attacks against Saudi Arabia to be carried out by the Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, writing: "The Kurds, the Shi'ites, and the Sunnis in Iraq, who owe the current order and the current law in Iraq to agreements [reached] among them in 2004-2010, will not overlook the terror operations... From 2003 to this day, Saudi Arabia has fanned the terrorism in Iraq; according to statistics, over 300,000 victims from among the Iraqi people have been killed. Therefore, Saudi Arabia cannot be immune from the ramifications of its terror operations." The paper added: "If Saudi Arabia continues to equip and arm the terrorists of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and of several other groups like Ansar Al-Sunna, every operation that the Shi'ites will carry out against Saudi facilities and centers will be legitimate."

Spokesmen from the camp of Iranian Expediency Council chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, including Rafsanjani himself along with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Iranian Atomic Energy Organization chairman Ali Akbar Salehi, were notable as the only ones to call for dialogue with Saudi Arabia, despite the grave accusations that they levelled against it regarding its support for organizations carrying out terrorism against Iran and its interests.

This report will review the main Iranian statements against Saudi Arabia:

Iranian Regime Officials: Saudi Arabia's Support For Takfiri Circles Will Harm it

Supreme Leader Khamenei: The Takfiri Stream Greatly Endangers The Islamic World

In a January 19, 2014 speech, during Islamic unity week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said: "Some takfiris, instead of paying attention to the evil Zionist regime, are, in the name of Islam and shari'a, calling most Muslims heretics and preparing the ground for war, violence, and schism. Therefore, the existence of this takfiri [i.e. heretical] stream is good news for the enemies of Islam...

"The takfiri stream causes clashes among Muslims by dividing them into 'Muslim and heretic'... Thus, no one can doubt that the existence of this stream and its support with money and weapons are not an operation of the apparatuses of security and evil belonging to the governments of the arrogance [i.e. the West led by the U.S.] and their puppet regimes...

"Unfortunately, some Muslim governments are fanning these conflicts, and fail to realize that this fire will also burn all of them... The arrogance is attempting to cloak the Islamic awakening by pitting the disciples of various Islamic schools [i.e. Sunnis and Shi'ites] against each other. They are tarnishing Islam in the eyes of global public opinion by highlighting the ugly actions of the takfiri stream, for example, their chewing on the livers of the people whom they murder."[1]

Khamenei's Facebook Page: Islamic Governments That Sow Dissent Among Muslims Will Themselves Be Harmed

That same day, Khamenei's office also posted these statements to his Facebook page in English:[2] "Unfortunately, some Muslim governments ignorantly fuel the conflicts; they do not realize that fueling these conflicts ignites a fire whose flames will seize all of them. This is what the arrogant powers seek: A war between two groups of Muslims.

"Supporting takfiri groups with the aim of fueling the conflicts among Muslims has been intensified over the last three or four years, with a wave of Islamic Awakening sweeping some Islamic and Arabic countries, in order to affect the Islamic awakening. Ayatollah Khamenei, January 19, 2014."

From Khamenei's Facebook page, January 19, 2014.

President Rohani: "Those Who Believe They Will Remain Immune To The Sword Of Terrorism That Kills Innocents Are Gravely Mistaken"

At the International Conference for Islamic Unity in Tehran on January 18, 2014, President Hassan Rohani said: "We should devote all our efforts to prevent the ongoing bloodshed among the nation of Islam that is being carried out on hollow pretexts, by those who say 'there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger' yet create schism and a gulf [between the Sunnis and Shi'ites] using the ugliest of weapons, the weapon of heresy. These are not friends of the Sunna or the Shi'a. They are the enemies of Islam, the Koran, and the Prophet [Muhammad]... If any government believes that by strengthening the terrorists it can topple some [other] government in this region and increase its regional influence and power, it is sorely mistaken. Anyone who digs a pit for his brother will fall into that same pit. Those who believe they will remain immune to the sword of terrorism that kills innocents are gravely mistaken..."[3]

The Religious Aspect: Ayatollahs Call To Unite Against Wahhabism; The Koran Is Against The Wahhabis And We Need Fatwas Against Them

On January 15, 2014, Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi said: "Wahhabism is a tool for the enemies, and Muslims should stay away from the heretical Wahhabism... The disagreements and conflicts among Muslims have today risen to an unprecedented level. In Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain... the heretical Wahhabism is the chief cause of conflict. For hundreds of years, Shi'ites, Sunnis, Alawites, and Christians lived together in Syria, but when they [i.e. Wahhabi elements] entered [the arena] – look at the wars and bloodshed that began. Several Arab countries have become tools for the U.S. and Israel."[4]

In a January 19, 2014 speech at the Islamic Unity conference in Tehran, Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, secretary-general of the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly, which is subordinate to to Khamenei's office, said: "Wahhabism sent the takfiris to fight the Muslims, and Islamic clerics should take responsibility in light of the current crimes [being perpetrated] in Islamic societies and should call for unity in society, come out against the misguided fatwas that are being issued, and stand fast against the accusations being levelled at the Prophet [Muhammad] and against Muslim oppression."[5]

Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Akhtari (Image: IRNA, January 27, 2014)

On February 2, 2014, Ayatollah Akhtari told the official Iranian news agency IRNA that the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly had sent letters to Shi'ite and Sunni clerics in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Malaysia, as well as to the president of Indonesia, calling on them to support Shi'ites around the world and stand fast against the Wahhabi and takfiri circles. He added that in accordance with the orders issued by both the Imam (i.e. Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic Revolution, and Supreme Leader Khamenei, Iran has no intention of repaying the Wahhabis in kind (i.e. with terrorist attacks) and added: "The Salafi and takfiri circles do not accept their Sunni brothers, let alone the Shi'ites. They spill the blood of Muslims and are like a cancerous tumor in the Islamic world. Wahhabism and the takfiris are the handiwork of the arrogance, and we must use the media and hold international conferences to tell the world about their evil goals."[6]

In a January 30 conference in Isfahan, the director of Khamenei's office, Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi-Golpayegani, said: "The greatest danger threatening Islam today is the existence of takfiris, since with their fatwas they proclaim Shi'ites to be inferior to [even] the Jews and Christians, and strive for Muslim infighting."[7] Khamenei's representative in Pakistan, Ayatollah Abul Fazl Bahauddini, said in a speech in Qom: "King 'Abdallah's grandson has announced that Saudi Arabia's budget to fight the Shi'a and Islamic Iran this year is equal to the entire budget of three Arab countries." He added, "They have expanded Wahhabi [activity] for this purpose."[8]

Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi said in a January 23 speech to Defense Ministry officials during Islamic Unity Week: "[In the time of] the Third Caliph [Uthman], the Caliph's secularism, gang wars, discrimination, and nepotism angered the masses and eventually led to his assassination... [Today's] takfiri Wahhabis are the fruit of the same trees, [those] who abandoned God after the death of the Prophet [Muhammad]."[9]

Image on the website of the official Iranian broadcasting authority: "Wahhabism – the most bloodthirsty and evil cult in the world." (, January 28, 2014)

On January 19, 2014, Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani said: "The Muslims should strengthen their defense and military industries so that the faithful can stand fast against the enemies. The Koran mentions that the infidels, Jews, hypocrites [i.e. the Iranian oppositionist group Mojahedin-e Khalq], and Zionists are your enemies. As you see, today a deviant and extremist sect known as Wahhabism, and the takfiris, are working for the enemies of Islam."[10] On February 2, 2014, Hamedani reiterated: "According to the Koran, the infidels, hypocrites, and Zionists are the enemies of the house of faith... We always must struggle against the infidels headed by America and Britain, the traitors, and the Zionists, and must be aware of their plans and of the fact that we cannot reach an agreement with them... Nowadays the takfiris, who enjoy the support of Saudi Arabia, have also joined our enemies. Saudi Arabia is using its income from its gas and petroleum to fight the Shi'ites, and is a tool of America."[11]

The devil bows to the takfiris (Fars, Iran, February 9, 2014)

Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, secretary-general of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, which is subordinate to Khamenei's office, appeared on Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam TV and called on Saudi Arabia to stop its terrorism in the region: "If Saudi politicians so desire, they can prevent the influence and growth of takfiri elements in several countries in the region, just as they successfully prevented takfiri and terrorist activity in their own country... The enemies of Saudi Arabia [meaning the Shi'ites in Iran and Iraq] do not support terrorism. If they did, Shi'ites in Iraq could send many terrorists across the border [from Iraq] into Saudi Arabia. But we see that [instead] terrorists emerge in many areas where it is in Saudi Arabia's interest to spread terrorism."[12]

On February 6, Ayatollah Shirazi discussed the issue of the Wahhabis, saying: "They spill the blood of the oppressed and the innocent with their particular perception of the Koran, while, based on the Koran, we can prove that their actions are mistaken." He added that the Wahhabis "create false pretenses under which to kill others by selectively interpreting [Koranic] verses…"[13]

Ayatollah Hamedani noted in late January 2014: "One Koranic recommendation is to identify the enemy, his proxies, and his helpers. Today we can call Saudi Arabia and Qatar the proxies of the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.], which plunders the lives and property of Muslims by means of the takfiris."[14] During a January 20 meeting with Tunisian Grand Mufti Hamda Sa'id, Hamedani said: "The global arrogance and its satellites see that their status is in danger, and have therefore united to create conflict and confrontations among the nations of Islam in order to prevent this. The current rulers, including Al-Saud [in Saudi Arabia], Aal Khalifa [in Bahrain], and Al-Nahyan [in the UAE], are all puppets of the arrogance and are therefore standing fast against their own peoples."[15]

Ayatollah Hamedani (Image: IRNA, Iran, January 18, 2014)

At a January 30 conference in Qom, Assembly of Experts member and religious seminaries director Ayatollah Hashem Hosseini Bushehri said: "The takfiris and Wahhabism are the height of fitna in Islamic societies... The takfiris behead Muslims in the name of Islam. The world today sees how Muslims oppress each other in the name of the religion. The enemy has labored very diligently on this matter, and is united in its action to create conflict among Muslims."[16]

On January 25, 2014, the daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami, which is close to the religious seminaries of Qom and to Hashemi Rafsanjani, called on jurisprudents from various Islamic schools to issue a joint fatwa actually declaring the takfiri stream officially heretical, saying that this would enable Muslims to work together against the takfiris and prevent a dark future for Muslims: "The takfiri stream is not only a criminal circle that kills its opponents and enslaves and sells their women, destroys their homes, loots their property, and slaughters their children. [Rather,] the members of this stream see all their steps as jihad in the path of Allah. Every crime they commit is accompanied by the saying 'Allah Akbar'; therefore, they should be seen as nothing more than termites working against Islam who gradually eat away at the religion of God and will leave nothing if they can...

"The warnings of Leader [Khamenei] at the Islamic Unity conference that the takfiri stream is a great danger to the Islamic world [reflects] an important reality that cannot be overlooked... The duty to struggle against the takfiri stream is an historical mission placed on the shoulders of the leaders of the Islamic states and of the clerics, academics, revolutionaries and thinkers. This mission will be complete when clerics from various schools in Islam issue a joint fatwa questioning the Islam of the takfiris and explaining in detail the fate of those who have turned to the weapon of takfir."[17]

Branches Of The Iranian Regime Call For A Shi'ite Reaction Against Saudi Arabia

IRGC: "The Operations Of The Al-Saud Family Demand A Decisive And Crushing Response"; "The Saudi Mercenaries' Assassinations Of Iranian Diplomats Allow Iran To Reserve The Right To Carry out Any Kind Of Retaliatory Operation"

A January 26, 2014 article titled "The Insane Suicide of the Al-Saud" in the IRGC weekly Sobh-e Sadeq stated: "Today, the aid in money, ammunition, and ideology that Saudi Arabia is giving to the terrorists of Al-Qaeda, who are a problem for most of the countries in the region, is no longer concealed. The hands of the Al-Saud family [which is] behind the crimes of these murderous terrorist groups are an open [secret], to the point where these days defending this family has become difficult even for its Western and Zionist supporters. Some of the politicians and heads of state in the region have publicly called Saudi Arabia responsible for the crimes of Al-Qaeda in their countries and in the region. Others, like Iraq, Iran, and Syria, have sent documents to the international organizations showing that the Saudis have a hand in Al-Qaeda's explosions and crimes...

"Also with regard to Iran, the regional anti-Iran operations carried out by Al-Qaeda terrorists who are identified with the Al-Saud family are very clear. The assassination of Iran's cultural attaché in Lebanon and of the Iranian diplomat in Yemen were two operations on which the handprint of the Saudis was very obvious. It appears that Saudi Arabia is no longer hiding its [once-]concealed hostility [towards Iran]. Some time ago, it was even reported that the Al-Saud family had asked the U.S. and the Zionists to attack Iran. [Also, it was] the firm opposition of Saudi Arabia, along with the U.S., [that led to] the rescinding of the invitation extended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to Iran to participate in the anti-Iran Geneva 2 conference alongside Syria.

"It appears that these anti-Iran operations by the Al-Saud family require a decisive and crushing response – a response that will cause the Al-Saud family to regret its continuing hostility to Iran... The Al-Saud family's public suicide today, by means of its interference in the countries of the region and its public support for the terrorists of Al-Qaeda, attests to the weakness and the waning of this family. The truth is that this family is now facing extensive problems and popular protests, not only in the region but on its own soil. This development has led the Saudi leaders to interfere in the [affairs of] several countries in order to distract local and international public opinion from what is happening in Saudi Arabia itself.

"But this attempt has in no way helped this family to suppress and obscure the civil protests of the Saudi people. The discovery of the Al-Saud family's involvement in the crimes of the Al-Qaeda terrorists with whom it is identified has evoked protest from other countries – and Saudi Arabia will pay a heavy price as a result.

"Saudi mercenaries' assassination of Iranian diplomats allows Iran to reserve the right to carry out any kind of reprisal operation. The Al-Saud family must understand the painful reaction [to come] following the operations that it has carried out. At the same time, Iran's diplomatic and judicial apparatuses must present to the international courts – with help from Russia, Syria, and Iraq – the documents proving the Al-Saud involvement in the crimes and explosions in the region. This is so that the Saudi people and the Islamic world will forever be saved from the violent and inhuman ideas of the Wahhabism of Al-Qaeda and of their tyrannical masters, the Al-Saud family. All the signs point to the end of the rule of the Al-Saud family."[18]

In another January 26 article, titled "The Takfiri Terrorism Is A Wahhabi Gift To The Arrogance [i.e. the U.S.]," Sobh-e Sadeq called for a firm Shi'ite response to Saudi Arabia: "It is inconceivable that the takfiri terrorism is being carried out by only one country; such terrorism has to be carried out with the cooperation of a group whose members all benefit from it...

"The Syrian army's relative takeover of the regions of conflict, and this army's upper hand there, are a positive sign of the hope for a military victory that must be expanded. The countries supporting Syria, and particularly the Muslim countries which are endangered today, and tomorrow, by the takfiri terrorism, must show great determination on this issue, and must help Syria. If the takfiri terror movement is defeated, the ground will be prepared for an Islamic awakening movement, [that will move] in the direction of the reactionary countries [i.e. the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, etc.]; the removal of several of them, or fundamental changes in their [centers of] power, will [soon] be a fait accompli...[19]

In a February 8, 2014 conference, Ayatollah Muhammad Hassan Akhtari, a senior official in Khamenei's office, called upon the Shi'ites in Yemen to tighten their ties with Iran in order to overcome the Wahhabi pressure they are facing: "In the era of [former Yemeni president] 'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh, we wanted to form strong ties with the Zaidis [a Shi'ite sect] in Yemen, but it was impossible. These problems still persist. The Shi'ites in Iran need relations with Iran because the Wahhabi pressure [on them] is growing, and [the Wahhabis] are even using funds in attempt to get them to convert [to the Sunna]. But the Yemeni Shi'ites' resistance to this is strong, and if they tighten their relations with Iran it will have considerable influence on their morale."[20]

Kayhan: "Actions To Rein In Terrorism Should Start On The Streets Leading To King 'Abdallah's Palace In Riyadh"; "Any Shi'ite Action Against Saudi Facilities And Centers Will Be Legitimate... Saudi Arabia Cannot Be Immune From The Ramifications Of Its Terror Operations"

In its February 4, 2014 editorial, the regime mouthpiece Kayhan wrote: "There has been a significant resurgence of terrorist actions in Iraq in the last two years. [These actions] are directly tied to the policy of Saudi Arabia, which wishes to topple the Syrian regime. The increase of terrorist activity in Iraq, along with the promotion of terrorist activity in Syria, shows that terrorism is once again linked to foreign intervention. In this sense, it can be said that the end of terrorist activity in Iraq, and especially in Al-Anbar province, will be directly linked to the defeat of Saudi Arabia's anti-Syria policy. It can further be said that actions to rein in terrorism should start on the streets leading to King 'Abdallah's palace in Riyadh – otherwise, anti-terror action will encounter many difficulties...

"Many documents, some of which are even published in the Saudi media, indicate that ISIS terrorists rely on Saudi Arabia for its funding and arming. ISIS's [increased] activity in Iraq indicates that this terrorist group has despaired of achieving results in Syria. Several news items published in recent days have confirmed [Kayhan's] assessment that Saudi Arabia is attempting to cover for its defeat by the resistance axis in Syria by achieving results in Iraq...

"If the situation in Iraq deteriorates, it will be to the disadvantage of Saudi Arabia and its terrorist allies, because the [Iraqi] provinces bordering Saudi Arabia and most of those living on the Iraqi-Saudi border are Shi'ites, and they live near the Shi'ites in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia continues to equip and arm the terrorists of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and of several other groups like Ansar Al-Sunna, every operation that the Shi'ites will carry out against Saudi facilities and centers will be legitimate. In fact, contrary to Saudi Arabia's assessments, the Kurds, the Shi'ites, and the Sunnis in Iraq, who owe the current [political] order in Iraq to agreements [reached] among themselves in 2004-2010, will not overlook the terror operations... From 2003 to this day, Saudi Arabia has fanned the terrorism in Iraq; according to statistics, over 300,000 victims from among the Iraqi people have been killed. Therefore, Saudi Arabia cannot be immune from the ramifications of its terror operations."

Cartoon in Fars: The risk posed by "Takfiri extremists" to the "Islamic world." January 29, 2014

"The main problem of classic armies is that they were established to deal with an enemy who fights them openly, and it takes time to get used to the dynamic conditions [of guerilla warfare]… However, starting in September 2012, the [Syrian] army adapted itself and slowly tipped the scale in its favor, after transforming its operational forces and increasing its intelligence capabilities... Currently, the Iraqi army is battling the same groups that the Syrian army did during March 2012-April 2013. The Iraqi army now benefits from the experience of the Syrian army. The Iraqi government and its army – at least from March 2012 – has seriously addressed the possibility that the events in Syria would recur in Iraq and has prepared to face them... Therefore, Saudi Arabia will soon taste defeat in Iraq as well..."[21]

Kahyan: "Most Sunnis In The Region See Saudi Arabia As The Chief Element Undermining Security In The Islamic World"

The January 6 Kayhan editorial stated: "The concentration of forces called ISIS in Al-Anbar [in Iraq] is a clear sign that this organization has despaired of the developments in Syria and that the Syrian army has achieved an absolute victory over this organization and the Western and Arab countries that supported it... Many documents indicate that the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda – meaning Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi's group [i.e. ISIS], which renewed its activity in Iraq's Al-Anbar in March 2012 – enjoys substantial support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, and enjoys the intelligence and security cooperation of the U.S. and France. Saudi Arabia is trying to topple Nouri Al-Maliki's government [in Iraq] and the Syrian regime by means of this organization... [However,] soon the resistance axis will achieve a grand and simultaneous victory in Iraq and Syria over terrorism and the Western front that supports it... Even now most Sunnis in the region recognize Saudi Arabia as the chief element undermining security in the Islamic world..."[22]

Kayhan: Saudi Arabia And The Wahhabis Support Terrorist Groups Financially And Militarily

The Kayhan editorial on January 19, 2014, stated: "There is not even minimal doubt that Saudi Arabia –along with Wahhabism, which attacks the Islamic world and rejects authentic Muslim belief on [Saudi Arabia's] behalf – has a strategic alliance with the West. Nobody questions that Saudi Arabia is the West's main base in the Middle East after the Zionist regime... The results of the policy of the Al-Saud [royal] family and the results of the policy of the takfiri [groups] are not just identical but [also indicate] open Saudi support for takfiri steps in all Islamic countries. Saudi Arabia's clear support for the takfiri Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Pakistan, the paramilitary takfiri [militia] in Dagestan, ISIS in Iraq, [Jabhat] Al-Nusra's takfiris in Syria, and the 'Abdallah 'Azzam [Brigades] takfiri group in Lebanon are only part of this. In this reality, the West's hand in operating, supporting, and using these takfiri groups become totally apparent...

"The West completely supports Saudi Arabia and aspires to place Al-Saud at the head of the Islamic world. Saudi Arabia and the takfiri Wahhabis grant significant financial and armed support to terrorist [groups] like Al-Qaeda and its various factions. Takfiri measures are also aimed against the unity of the Islamic world, whereas in recent years they have not attacked any American or Israeli targets. Therefore, the takfiri Wahhabi stream and the West are one stream... which wishes to harm Muslim unity and save the West from perdition.

"If we look around we will see that the escalating terrorist actions in the Islamic world occurred during the Arab revolutions and the pinnacle of Islamic awakening. If we visit countries that have rid themselves, thanks to the Islamic awakening, of the evil of tyrannical regimes and [regimes] dependant [on the West], we will see that all of them without exception are struggling against the phenomenon of takfir. Takfir is fights Muslims in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries, while pretending to be the [real] Islam, and the West is attempting to restore the previous regimes in those countries..."[23]

Iran's Arabic-Language Al-'Alam TV: Saudi Arabia Is Considered The Chief Supporter Of Armed Terrorist Groups In Syria; Saudi Arabia Has Armed Elements In Lebanon Trying To Spark Riots Using Terrorist Actions

An article posted January 22, 2014 on the Arabic-language Al-Alam TV website stated: "Currently, Saudi Arabia is considered the chief supporter of armed terrorist groups in Syria... Saudi Arabia did not like the Geneva [nuclear] agreement [with Iran]... Due to its strategic location, the Al-Anbar province in Iraq has always been a base of terrorist activity, mainly by ISIS, which was established with Saudi support...

"With the onset of the Iraqi army's operation to banish terrorist forces from [Al-Anbar], Saudi media launched an extensive propaganda campaign to incite public opinion against the Iraqi government... Early last month, the Saudi king ordered to spark fitna in Lebanon. With a $3 billion bribe to the French president, he jumpstarted the project of forming a new [Lebanese] government, marginalizing Hizbullah, and starting a war against the resistance in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia set the condition that Hizbullah could not be part of the new government...

"In addition to interfering in Lebanon's affairs by inciting the political streams, Saudi Arabia has armed elements in Lebanon who occasionally try to spark riots by means of terrorist actions. One example is Majed Al-Majed, the Saudi leader of the 'Abdallah 'Azzam Brigades terrorist group, who was responsible for the deadly blast near the Iranian embassy in Beirut. His sudden and questionable death several days after being arrested [in Lebanon] was another scandal for the leaders of Saudi Arabia."[24]

Regime Officials: Saudi Arabia Represents The Terrorist Front In The Region

On January 10, 2014, Khamenei advisor Rahim Safavi said: "By 2030 there will only be remnants of several monarchies in the Gulf. Some Arab countries have dispatched heretical elements to kill civilians in Iraq and Syria, but eventually those elements will attack them too... Some Arab countries that should be called Zionist operate as part of the Zionist policy: they kill the people in Iraq, Syria, and Bahrain, and operate completely within [the framework of] American goals. We warn them: Learn from the fate of the Shah, who also collaborated with Israel and the Americans. We say to them: The fate of the Shah will be your certain fate."[25]

On January 16, 2014, Iranian Deputy Chief of Staff Masoud Jazayeri said: "Saudi Arabia is responsible for most of the fighting in the region."[26]

In a January 31 interview with ISNA, Khamenei's representative to Sistan-Baluchistan province Abbas Ali Soleimani said: "Today, Wahhabism – the chief disseminator of Salafi and takfiri ideology in the world – is unfortunately funded from Najd and the Hizaj [Saudi Arabia]. This ideology is like a cancerous tumor in the mind of the Islamic world – i.e., Medina and Mecca – and all clerics should stand against the takfiris to uproot this tumor from Islamic society. It is not just the Shi'ites who are in conflict with these enemies."[27]

Judiciary deputy head Hojatoleslam Raisi said in a February 1 speech that the enemy is trying to divert the Islamic awakening in the region from its path and divide the Muslims: "The triumvirate of Britain, Israel and America, together with Saudi Arabia – which is the greatest basis of hope for the enemies and of despair for the believers – spreads the takfiri streams that operate against [Islamic] values and supports unhealthy governments with money, power and wealth."[28]

Cartoon in Fars: Saudi Arabia brings terrorists into Iraq's Al-Anbar province. January 16, 2014

At a Tehran meeting with Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee chairman Ala Al-Din Boroujerdi said: "Wahhabi-minded takfiri and terrorist groups in Syria serve the interests of the Muslims' enemies... Takfiri groups are used as a tool by enemies of Islam and they seem to lack a true understanding of Islam."[29]

Previously, on January 14, 2014, Boroujerdi told the Majlis website: "The U.N. secretary-general should examine Saudi Arabia's role in regional terrorist activities... The Al-Saud family supports takfiri terrorists in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, and the U.N. should [pressure] the Saudi government so that the Al-Saud family changes its policy and attitude. This ongoing policy and the transformation of the region into a place of crisis is not helpful to Saudi Arabia, the Islamic world, the Arab world or the region."[30]

Former Iranian ambassador to France Sadegh Kharazi said: "Iran is unofficially fighting Saudi Arabia outside [the Saudi] borders... Saudi Arabia is the most significant element sabotaging Iran's relation-building with the West. Nowadays Bandar [bin Sultan, head of Saudi Arabia's National Security Council,] undermines stability and security in the region and is attempting to curb Iran's increasing regional power by supporting extremists... Every step taken by Saudi Arabia today is contrary to Iran's national interests."[31]

In an interview with an Iranian website on January 18, 2014, former Iranian ambassador to Mexico, Guatemala, and Australia Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri Abyaneh, said: "Assassinating Iranian diplomats is one of the goals of the takfiri terrorists and the evil forces like the Zionist regime. Since Bandar bin Sultan was appointed Saudi espionage and intelligence chief, these crimes have increased and are no longer confined to Iran and the rest of the Islamic world, but now reach Russia as well. As long as Bandar bin Sultan is alive, these assassinations and crimes will continue. He can even continue these crimes in order to seize power in Saudi Arabia and eliminate his rivals within the Saudi royal family as well."[32]

Cartoon in Fars: Saudi security chief Bandar bin Sultan is behind terror activity in Syria and Iraq. January 12, 2014.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, discussing the assassination of an Iranian diplomat in Yemen, told Fars on January 20, 2014: "We warned all parties that support heretical groups in the region: do not play with fire." He stressed that "several elements that support heretical groups in the region, alongside the Yemeni government, are responsible [for the assassination]."[33]

Majlis member Morteza Hosseini said that Saudi Arabia is portraying a cruel image of Islam with the backing of the U.S. by supporting regional terrorism: "Saudi Arabia is the key element in supplying [weapons to] and supporting the terrorist groups in the region."[34]

Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Spokesman Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said: "The petrodollars of some regional governments are in the pockets of Takfiri terrorists, Salafis, and extremist groups... Saudi Arabia's support for Takfiris in Syria, the terrorist activities in Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Russia, and even some European countries such as Serbia and Bosnia, shows that a great threat [is jeopardizing] the region's security."[35]

On January 6, 2014, the IRGC weekly Sobh-e Sadegh wrote: "Arab countries like Saudi Arabia aspire to establish puppet governments, and have implanted governments in Iraq and even in Syria and Lebanon that will obey only their demands in order to cover up their own crushing defeats in the region and proudly display their guardianship over Arab countries."[36]

In a January 20, 2014 article titled "Saudi Arabia's Failed Attempt To Syrianize Iraq," Sobh-e Sadegh claimed that Saudi Arabia is destabilizing Iraq in order to pressure Hizbullah and Iran to leave Syria, after failing to win the conflict there: "The destabilization and conflicts in the past three weeks in the cities of the Al-Anbar province in Iraq... are identical to what is happening in Syria, and to some extent in Lebanon as well... When it could not achieve even a minimal victory against the defenders of the Syrian regime, Saudi Arabia tried to pressure Hizbullah and Iran in Lebanon and significantly destabilized Iraq in order to cause the withdrawal of Hizbullah and the Shi'ite forces from Syria... The events in Iraq and the destabilization in Al-Anbar, as well as [Saudi Arabia's] operation of Al-Qaeda, clearly indicate Saudi Arabia's regional project in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In these three countries, Saudi Arabia relies on terrorists and Al-Qaeda circles and has no popular support."[37]

In a January 4 column in the daily Tehran-e Emrooz, Hassan Hanizadeh, a pundit close to ideological regime circles, wrote: "Saudi Arabia pays millions of dollars every month to the heads of some tribes that oppose Nouri Al-Maliki's [Iraqi] government in the Al-Anbar, Mosul, and Saladin [provinces] in order for them to expand demonstrations and protests. Unfortunately, over the past year, some tribes carried out close cooperation with Al-Qaeda and takfiri terrorism circles, which exacerbated the lack of security in Shi'ite regions in Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as [Iraq's Sunni vice-president] Tariq Al-Hashemi and sheikhs identified with the previous Iraqi regime, [which was Sunni], played a devastating part in triggering the events in Al-Anbar. Saudi Arabia and Qatar's purpose is to prevent the establishment of a democratic regime that relies on the votes of the Iraqi majority, thus denying this majority the right to participate in determining its national fate."[38]

On January 21, 2014, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said that Iran intends to submit a complaint against Saudi Arabia to international bodies.[39]

Cartoon in Fars: Saudi Arabia invests in terrorists. January 26, 2014.

Rafsanjani And His Associates: Saudi Arabia Supports Extremist Forces But Dialogue Must Nevertheless Be Promoted

Expediency Council head and Khamenei rival Hashemi Rafsanjani, along with several Foreign Ministry officials who are working to improve Iran's relations with its neighbors, were the only ones to call for dialogue with Saudi Arabia when criticizing it.

Hashemi Rafsanjani To Entekhab Website: Both Sides Are Responsible For The Crisis

In an interview on January 8, 2014 with the website Entekhab, which is associated with his supporters, Rafsanjani said that Saudi Arabia supports extremist forces in the region and warned that bilateral relations are at an all-time low. However, he said that both sides are responsible for the crisis:

Entekhab: "In light of the escalating conflict in Syria and Iraq, and the increased monetary and material support for Salafis and Takfiris, how do you see Saudi Arabia's role in these actions?"

Rafsanjani: "Even now, Saudi Arabia is supporting these extremist forces in those areas."

Entekhab: "I think that relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia were never this tense."

Rafsanjani: "Yes. They are very tense right now."

Entekhab: "Do you think that this is a result of our extremists or [those] on the other side?"

Rafsanjani: "Both sides."[40]

Hashemi Rafsanjani. (Image: Al-Alam, February 9, 2014)

In a January 19 speech at the Islamic Unity conference in Tehran, Rafsanjani called for rising above differences and promote dialogue: "[The argument between the Shi'a and Sunna] over who was or was not the first Caliph is an historic issue that will not benefit us in any way. The question of how they wash their hands and feet before prayer and how they pray is not a reasonable [basis for] conflict... The signs of the devastation caused by this conflict in the Islamic world are gradually taking insane form, and if the disasters we witness on the news are true, we must weep over the situation we are in...

"Had the Islamic world obeyed the Koran, it would not have been in this situation. The nation of Islam represents one quarter of the world's nations and consists of 60 independent countries as well as many groups and populations in non-Islamic countries. The best divine assets are in the hands of the Muslims. Therefore, even today this nation can be the world's greatest superpower..."[41]

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a visit to Lebanon in the first half of January 2014 that Iran is prepared to launch a dialogue with Saudi Arabia for regional peace and security.[42] During the Munich Security Conference on February 2, 2014, Zarif repeated his call for a dialogue with Saudi Arabia and cooperation that would benefit both countries: "We have more commonalities than differences. Iran is ready to launch a dialogue with Saudi Arabia."[43]

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told Mehr on January 22, 2014: "We have information according to which the recent attacks on the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Iranian technitians in Iraq, and the diplomat in Sanaa, [Yemen,] were a series of coordinated actions and were carried out by takfiri and terrorist streams. However, there is a good chance that some foreign elements were behind these actions... Iran is well aware of Saudi Arabia's important role in the region and the Islamic world. We hope to witness productive stances and steps by Saudi Arabia and an affirmative response to Rohani and Zarif's initiative [for dialogue]."[44]

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, also reiterated Tehran's desire to improve relations with Saudi Arabia during a meeting in early February 2014 with the Saudi secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani: "We hope Iran and Saudi Arabia will make serious efforts to revive ties and [restore] the lost trust... We in Iran insist on boosting relations with Saudi Arabia... Good Iran-Saudi ties could be significant and effective for the entire world."[45]

*A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project; Y. Mansharof, E. Kharrazi, and Y. Lahat are Research Fellows at MEMRI.


[1], January 19, 2014.

[2], January 19, 2014.

[3], January 18, 2014.

[4] Mehr (Iran), January 15, 2014.

[5] Mehr (Iran), January 19, 2014.

[6] IRNA (Iran), February 2, 2014.

[7] Fars (Iran), January 30, 2014.

[8] Mehr (Iran), February 6, 2014.

[9] Mehr (Iran), January 23, 2014.

[10] Mehr (Iran), January 19, 2014.

[11] Mehr (Iran), February 2, 2014.

[12], January 12, 2014.

[13], February 6, 2014.

[14] Mehr (Iran), January 27, 2014.

[15], January 20, 2014.

[16] IRNA (Iran), January 30, 2014.

[17] Jomhouri-e Eslami (Iran), January 25, 2014.

[18] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), January 26, 2014. The website Tasnim, which is close to the IRGC, stated that the members of the royal Saudi family personally supervised the terror operations in Iraq, while funding them with millions of dollars under the oversight of the Saudi intelligence apparatus. Tasnim, Iran, February 3, 2014.

[19] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), January 26, 2014;

[20] Abna (Iran), February 8, 2014.

[21] Kayhan (Iran), February 4, 2014.

[22] Kayhan (Iran), January 6, 2014.

[23] Kayhan (Iran), January 19, 2014.

[24] Al-'Alam (Iran), January 22, 2014.

[25] Mehr (Iran), January 10, 2014.

[26], January 16, 2014.

[27] ISNA (Iran), January 31, 2014.

[28], February 1, 2014.

[29] Press TV (Iran), January 18, 2014.

[30] (Iran), January 14, 2014.

[31] ISNA (Iran), January 8, 2014.

[32], January 18, 2014.

[33] Fars (Iran), January 20, 2014.

[34], January 7, 2014.

[35], January 7, 2014.

[36] Sobh-e Sadegh (Iran), January 6, 2014.

[37] Sobh-e Sadegh (Iran), January 20, 2014.

[38] Tehran-e Emrooz (Iran), January 4, 2014.

[39] Kayhan (Iran), January 22, 2014.

[40], January 8, 2014.

[41], January 19, 2014.

[42] Ebtekar (Iran), January 14, 2014.

[43], February 2, 2014.

[44] Mehr (Iran), January 22, 2014.

[45] Press TV (Iran), February 6, 2014.

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