Head of Iran's Guard lashes out over Saudi 'treachery'
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of treachery against the Islamic world and compared the kingdom to Israel, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Today, the treacherous Saudis are following in Israel's footsteps," Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying.
"Saudi Arabia is shamelessly and disgracefully bombing and mass killing a nation that is fighting against the arrogant system," or world powers, he said. He was apparently referring to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been waging a monthlong air campaign against Iran-supported rebels, known as Houthis.
Iran has provided the Houthis with political and humanitarian support but denies arming them. The Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, last year, and Yemen's internationally recognized president has fled the country.
Iranian leaders have repeatedly criticized the airstrikes and said the Saudi-led campaign is doomed to fail. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei went so far as to call the airstrikes in Yemen "genocide."
Jafari said the Saudi monarchy is facing collapse and called on his government to adopt a tougher stance toward Riyadh.
Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are longtime regional rivals. They back opposite sides in Syria's civil war and are fiercely divided on a host of regional issues.
The head of Iran's navy said warships would remain in international waters near Yemen as part of a 90-day assignment through July 10. Adm. Habibollah Sayyari told state TV they will then be replaced by another fleet.
Iran dispatched the destroyer Alborz and logistics ship Bushehr to the waters off Yemen last month. It says the ships are patrolling the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait on an anti-piracy mission.
Last week the Pentagon said a nine-ship Iranian convoy heading for Yemen had reversed course.
The turning point appeared to be the U.S. Navy's announcement last Monday that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt had departed its usual position in the Persian Gulf and was to join other U.S. forces conducting maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden off Yemen's coast.
Iranian officials have never acknowledged sending a convoy.