In recent days, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the top echelons of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) dispatched threatening messages to Saudi Arabia's rulers in response to the hundreds of Iranians killed in the stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia, which claimed the lives of over a thousand Hajj pilgrims. Khamenei, along with IRGC commanders and ideological camp leaders, were furious at the Saudi royal family, holding it responsible for the disaster and promising a "harsh and decisive" response if Saudi Arabia continued what they called its deliberate anti-Iran conduct. The daily Kayhan, which is close to Khamenei, even claimed that Saudi authorities had intentionally caused the stampede after it was planned by the Israeli Mossad.
In fact, in the past 18 months, Iran has repeatedly threatened Saudi Arabia and the Al-Sa'ud royal family, as tensions between the two countries escalated against the backdrop of the nuclear negotiations, the Saudi policy of lowering oil prices, and the wars in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. Thus, for example, Iran's leadership threatened to "use all means at its disposal against Saudi Arabia," including targeting Saudi oil transports, sparking Shi'ite uprisings in eastern Saudi Arabia, threatening to set oil wells on fire, and more, in order to cause the collapse of the Al-Sa'ud regime.
Two Models For Iran's Political And Military Conduct
Two distinct models characterize Tehran's geopolitical and military conduct vis-├á-vis its regional and global rivals :
1. The "Paper Tiger" model - mainly vis-├á-vis Saudi Arabia. Faced with the empowered military and political Sunni Arab bloc, which is stronger than Iran, the Iranian regime backs down, revealing itself as a paper tiger. This model has come into play on several occasions, when Iran didn't dare to exercise its power revealing its threats as hollow: In 2003, when the U.S. besieged Iran from the south (Iraq) and the east (Afghanistan); in Bahrain in 2011, when a pro-Iranian Shi'ite coup was thwarted by a show of Saudi-Gulf military might, and in Yemen during the past year, where Saudi Arabia is heading a Sunni-anti Iran coalition and is the most active member of this coalition.
It seems that this time as well, Iran's threats follow this "Paper Tiger" model.
2. The "Intimidating Bully" model-mainly vis-├á-vis the U.S. The latter has been forgiving and sympathetic to the Iranian regime's demands and to its expansion in the region, in addition to seeing it as a partner in its strategic interests, such as the fight against ISIS - despite Iran's international terrorist activity. The U.S. has even shown willingness to grant Tehran limited nuclear status despite its violations of Security Council resolutions and IAEA regulations. Iran has continued its military and political expansion in the region alongside its ongoing issuing of threats, even against the U.S. military. It has become clear that the U.S.'s sympathetic stance has neither softened nor curbed Iran's offensive activity in the region, but has only encouraged its hostile policy.
This document will review the current wave of threats by Iran's leadership against Saudi Arabia:
Khamenei's Office Posts Military Threat Video
On October 5, 2015, the official website for the office of Supreme Leader Khamenei posted a four-minute video showing Ayatollah Khomeini and then-president Khamenei mourning the death of Iranian pilgrims killed in a 1987 incident in Mecca. The video later shows footage of the bodies of Iranians killed in the Mina stampede some two weeks ago, while Khamenei condemns the lack of cooperation by Saudi authorities in the efforts to return the bodies to Iran. Khamenei is then seen flanked by military commanders and warning the Saudis that ongoing lack of cooperation would trigger a "harsh and decisive" response by Iran. This is followed by an intimidating display of IRGC naval capabilities. See the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0OKgBgivTc&feature=youtu.be.
Khamenei even said on September 30, 2015, at a naval graduation ceremony, that Saudi Arabia was being devious and shirking its duties in the Mina affair, stressing that Iran was free to act and promising "a decisive response." He said:"Certain people in the world of Islam, including from Iran, should go [to Saudi Arabia] and investigate this matter closely and clarify the reasons for the [Mina] disaster. They [the Saudis] have not fulfilled their duty to the injured... Even today there are still problems in transferring the bodies to Iran... but Saudi Arabia is not fulfilling its obligations, and in some cases it is even deviously acting contrary to them...
"Thus far we have looked the other way, [but] Iran has greater freedom of action than many others. We have greater abilities and more tools. They know that if they wish to confront the Islamic Iran, they cannot match it in any arena. We have [thus far] maintained the Islamic dignity and brotherly honor of the Islamic ummah. [But] we can respond, and if we wish to react our responses will be decisive. Harsh and decisive.
"...There are still tens of thousands of our loved ones in Mecca carrying out the Hajj rituals. The slightest disrespect towards them will spark a reaction [from us]. [The Saudis] not fulfilling their role regarding the bodies of our loved ones will spark a reaction [on our part]. They should be careful and carry out their duty... If anyone wishes to harm the rights of the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will know how to deal with them. We will respond firmly. Thank God, [we] have the ability. The Iranian nation is powerful;this has been proven.We can defend our rights."
IRGC Commander: We Are Prepared To Take Vengeance On Saudi Arabia
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IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said at a press conference at an Iranian naval base on October 3, 2015 that the IRGC was prepared to take vengeance on Saudi Arabia's royal family at the behest of Supreme Leader Khamenei:
"The IRGC is preparing all possible tools for a swift and decisive Iranian response in order to realize the will of the Leader and cause the Al-Sa'ud [regime] to answer for the disaster in Mina that killed Iranian pilgrims. [The IRGC] is awaiting orders [from the Leader].
"If need be, at any time and in any place in the region, the IRGC is prepared to carry out any decisive and heroic move to defend the honor of Muslims, especially Iranians, vis-a-vis the evil ignorant Al-Sa'ud rulers. [The IRGC] will take vengeance on Al-Sa'ud.
"The Islamic world has grown tired of Al-Sa'ud's betrayals and ignorance, which include the massacre [they carry out] in Yemen, the displacement of the dear Syrian people, oppressing Bahrainis, the collective slaughter in Iraq, the creation of sectarian schism, and support for terrorism. [Saudi Arabia] will dissolve in the rage of Muslims."
Iranian Ground Forces Commander: Saudi Arabia Is Betraying The Muslims
On October 5, 2015, Iran's ground forces commander Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, speaking at the funeral of General Saeed Jafari, who died in the Mina stampede, accused Saudi Arabia of "betrayals and crimes against Muslims around the world" and its government of "destroying the innocent Syrian people" and of slaughtering the people of Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He said:"In response to the recommendations and orders of the Leader [Khamenei], we are committed and ready to present the unworthy Saudi rulers with a harsh, decisive, and crushing message by the Iranian regime, and also show them the courage and greatness of Iran's soldiers. Not only does Saudi Arabia not serve the holy sites, it also carries out most of the betrayals and crimes against Muslims around the world. The Saudi Arabian government's hands are stained to the elbows with the blood of innocent Yemenis. [In addition,] it is destroying the innocent Syrian people with its total support of Jabhat Al-Nusra, and it also supports ISIS, and its hands are stained with the blood of Iraq's children, women, and men. Saudi Arabia created the Taliban [as well], and is thus killing the Afghani people.
The overall actions of this [Saudi] regime conforms to the desires of the Zionists and America. We can already see signs of deterioration in this unworthy Al-Saud mechanism, and the ground is already set for the collapse of this regime.
IRGC Navy Commander: Saudis Are Totally Dependent On The Sea... They Are Highly Vulnerable
IRGC Navy Commander Ali Fadavi said on October 4, 2015: "We will look the other way as long as our Islamic duty requires this, but the time will come when it will be our duty to punish and give a slap in the face... At a time when we possess sufficient capability for any response against America's warships, which are considered the greatest threat, there is certainly no weight to Saudi Arabia's threats, which are considered the smallest threat.The Saudis are totally dependent on the sea. All their oil is exported via the Persian Gulf; more importantly, their oil is in the eastern part [of the country] and inside the Persian Gulf. America's vulnerability is high, but compared to the Americans, Saudi Arabia's vulnerability is immeasurable."
IRGC Deputy Commander: The Saudi Regime Is On The Verge Of Collapse
At a "National Might" IRGC conference in Urmia in Northern Iran on October 4, 2015, IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said: "...The regime ruling Saudi Arabia has shown that it intends to graft the thinking of the jahiliyya [the pre-Islamic period] on modern means. Lack of planning, lack of responsibility, lack of management skills, neglect, pride and insensitivity turn the Al-Sa'ud regime into a weapon of mass destruction that causes Muslims to die as they are peacefully praying.
"After the Mina incident, the Saudi government behaved in a manner that was extremely ugly, hate-mongering, illogical, scattershot and irresponsible, and did not provide any answers. To this day they have not provided an accurate death toll. The disorganization prevailing there proves that a clan that treats Muslims savagely and unmercifully can no longer remain alive. All the recent events are signs of the impending collapse of [this] political regime, and the disorganization and disrespect towards the pilgrims indicate that it does not possess the necessary foundations for continued political vitality.
"At the same time, this weak, small, impotent regime intervenes in major affairs and illogically attacks Yemen and its defenseless people... The [Saudi] regime sends terrorist groups to Syria and devotes all its efforts to turn Muslims into displaced persons and humiliate them in the face of Jews and Christians... All these problems are the products of the Al-Sa'ud [dynasty], meant to spark the fire of fitna and schism in the Islamic world.
"Al-Sa'ud supports terrorist elements in order to deny the Iraqi people security and peace... They [the Saudis] do not emit a whiff of God's mercy, nor does it occupy their minds. This is also the reason that, when the Zionists attack the Palestinians, this rotten regime does not utter [a word of] protest.
"The improper Al-Sa'ud policy is the main reason for the Mina disaster. Ambitious and prideful policy in the world of Islam renders the Al-Sa'ud [regime] unable to manage a large-scale Islamic event such as the Hajj. Human imagination cannot grasp the Mina disaster, and I urge you [Saudis] to seriously heed the warnings of Leader Khamenei... As the Leader said, if a response does come, you will regret it."
 Kayhan (Iran), October 4, 2015.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5918, IRGC Weekly To Saudis: 'Iran Has Many Options For Harming Saudi Arabia... All [It] Needs To Do Is Use A Single One Of [Them] So That Nothing Remains Of The Entity Named The Aal-Saud Regime Or Of Saudi Arabia Itself', December 31, 2014; Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1144, Tehran Threatens Saudi Arabia; Khamenei: Iran Will Answer Saudi Arabia 'A Blow With A Blow', February 10, 2015; Special Dispatch No. 5858, Associates Of Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei: Saudi Arabia Is The Source Of Scheming Against The Islamic World; The Al-Saud Family Is Of Jewish Origin - And Its Turn To Fall Has Come, October 14, 2014; and Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1068, Iran Calls For Violent Shi'ite Reaction Against Saudi Arabia, February 12, 2014.
 See MEMRI TV Clip #4838 - Iranian Leader Khamenei: Death to America; Obama Is Trying to Turn Our People against the Regime, March 21, 2015; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1132, Khamenei Camp In Indirect Response To Obama Letter, On Anniversary Of U.S. Embassy Takeover: 'America Is Still The Great Satan And The No. 1 Enemy' Of Iran, November 16, 2014; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5728, Tehran Friday Sermon: The Iranian President Should Punch Obama In The Mouth When He Talks Nonsense, May 2, 2014.
 Farsi.khamenei.ir, September 30, 2015.
 Sepahnews.ir, October 3, 2015.
 Tasnim (Iran), October 5, 2015.
 Tasnim (Iran), October 4, 2015.
 Defapress.ir, October 4, 2015.