Iran’s Revolutionary Guards say Saudi Arabia was behind twin attacks in Tehran on Wednesday that killed at least 12 people and injured 43, a statement published by the Guards said.
“This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the U.S. president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack,” said the statement, published by Iranian media.
It would be alarming at the best of times for Iranian officials to accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting a terrorist attack on their capital, but under current circumstances it is a very explosive claim. It is all the more irresponsible and dangerous when there is no evidence to back it up, but then hard-liners typically treat attacks as opportunities to be used to advance their existing agenda. The intensely anti-Iranian rhetoric coming from Riyadh in recent weeks and months and Trump’s speech at the summit last month have provided Iran’s hard-liners with an excuse to pin the attacks on the governments that are so vocally hostile to them, but hostile rhetoric doesn’t prove anything by itself. ISIS’ claim of responsibility ought to create an opportunity for U.S.-Iranian cooperation against a common foe, but the IRGC is lumping all of Iran’s adversaries together and ignoring the differences among them. Because many Iranians don’t distinguish between the Saudis and ISIS, the latter’s claim of responsibility is all that is needed as confirmation:
In the view of many in Iran, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is inextricably linked to Saudi Arabia. Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line analyst with ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, “ISIS ideologically, financially and logistically is fully supported and sponsored by Saudi Arabia — they are one and the same.”
The IRGC’s accusation puts Iran and Saudi Arabia on a perilous path. There were already going to be increased tensions between them because of the Qatar crisis, and this promises to make things even worse. While Iran’s hard-liners try to exploit the attacks for their own purposes, there is bound to be an equally destructive push in Washington, Riyadh, and elsewhere for more confrontational policies against Iran. The U.S. ought to be looking for ways to defuse tensions and to extricate itself as much as possible from the region’s various feuds. Regrettably, the current administration has thrown its support entirely behind one group of states to the detriment of our interests and regional stability. Support for the Saudis and their allies in their reckless policies in Yemen and elsewhere has only encouraged them to become more aggressive. As a result, the U.S. may find itself drawn into a regional war that it could have tried to prevent but has recklessly encouraged instead.