DAMASCUS (Reuters) - A senior Iranian official branded Saudi Arabia’s King Salman a traitor to Islam on Thursday and equated the Gulf state’s military assault on Iranian-allied fighters in Yemen with Israeli actions against Palestinians.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran’s national security and foreign policy committee, was speaking a day after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the kingdom of “crimes” and the deputy head of Iran’s military warned Riyadh of “war” if it attacked an Iran aid ship heading toward Yemen.
”The Saudis made a huge mistake in Yemen and the impacts of the crimes they have committed will certainly backfire on them,” Khamenei told visiting Iraqi President Fouad Massoum on Wednesday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
An alliance of Gulf Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia has been bombing the Houthi militia and allied army units that control much of Yemen since March 26 in what they say is an attempt to restore exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Iran says it will not allow Saudi-led naval forces to inspect a cargo ship bound for Yemen under military escort, following the entry into force of a truce on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief of Iran’s Armed Forces Brigader General Massoud Jazayeri told Iran’s Arabic language al Alam TV on Wednesday that “attacking Iran’s Red Crescent aid ship will spark war in the region and this fire may not be put out or brought under control”.
“If this cargo ship does not reach the target, problem makers should expect Iran’s reaction, America and Saudi Arabia should know that Iran’s self-restraint has a limited.”
Iran’s Defence Ministry said the United States and Saudi Arabia would be responsible for the consequences of any provocative moves,” Iran’s Students News Agency reported.
Speaking in Damascus, Boroujerdi, said “God would take revenge” against the Saudi monarch for serving what he called U.S.-Israeli interests in the war against the Houthi rebels.
“He should be called the traitor of the noble Haramayn and the Islamic nation and against all the teachings they are killing children in Yemen with American weapons and replicating the crimes of the Zionist entity,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home of its holiest sites in Mecca and Medina - referred to in Arabic as the Haramayn.
“They will have to expect heavenly revenge,” he said.
His comments in Farsi were translated into Arabic.
Boroujerdi reiterated Iran’s support for Syria’s government, which is battling an insurgency backed by Saudi Arabia.
Shi‘ite Islamist Iran has been a vital ally for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the four-year Syrian war, providing crucial military and economic support.
“We are here to announced anew that our support for Syria - government and nation - is solid and continuous, and we are proud of this support,” Boroujerdi said, according to a report on the Syrian state news agency SANA.
Saudi Arabia and its allies believe the Houthis are a proxy for arch-rival Iran in a regional power struggle that has helped exacerbate sectarian tensions across the Middle East.
Riyadh says Iranian support for militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq as well as Yemen undermines strong government and boosts Sunni Muslim militants. It accused Tehran of arming the Houthis, charges the Islamic Republic denies.
Israel says its military measures against Palestinians are solely intended to safeguard its own security.
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Parisa Hafezi in Ankara,; Editing by William Maclean and Alison Williams