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Zarif Calls The Attack On Saudi Embassy 'Treason'

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif - File photo
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif - File photo

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister criticizing last year's attack on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran said that relevant authorities did not "manage" the situation correctly.

Following the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia on January 2, 2016, a protest gathering took place in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which ended with a group of attackers entering the compound and inflicting destruction on the diplomatic property. In response, Saudi Arabia cut its diplomatic relations with Iran.

Based on a report by the Iranian Student News Agency, ISNA, Zarif in a speech on Wednesday May 3 alluded to the embassy attack, as well as the brief detention of ten US sailors by Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf on January 13, 2016. According to Zarif, "One was managed badly and the other was managed correctly. Now, let's put aside the claim that they were both incidents aimed at disrupting the implementation of the nuclear deal. But the way they were managed is important."

The foreign minister went on explaining that on the very day when the embassy was attacked, the Supreme Council of National Security was meeting to discuss the danger of an attack on the embassy. "You can be sure that if this stupidity or in my view, this historic treason had not happened, today the situation would be different", Zarif is quoted as saying.

In another part of his remarks, Mohammad Javad Zarif questioned the April 4 chemical attack on civilians in Syria, which brought about a US military response. Zarif said, "When Mr. Trump became US president, some people assumed that [he] has domestic problems to solve and is not inclined to engage in crisis abroad. One incident, which was the chemical event in Syria, which if it were engineered then even worse, resulted in a 180 degree shift in US policy."

Usually, Iranian officials and politicians of different stripes defend Iran's policies in Syria. But on April 28, Gholamhossein Karbaschi, a 'reformist' politician and supporter of president Hassan Rouhani, in a campaign speech criticized Iran's policy in the region and particularly in Syria. Later, the judiciary launched a legal case against Mr. Karbaschi.

Mr. Zarif compared the Syrian event to the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York and said that George W. Bush had also indicated his preference to deal with domestic issues before the attack, "but just one incident changed the course of history".