TEHRAN – Iran on Sunday accused Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorism after a senior Saudi prince and former intelligence chief addressed a rally organised in Paris by exiled Iranian rebels from the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI) and told them that he wanted the Iranian government to fall.
Shi’ite Muslim power Iran and Saudi Arabia, the bastion of Sunni Islam, are longstanding rivals in the Middle East and have long been backing each other’s in regional wars in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
“The Saudis are resorting to well-known terrorists … as they have also done in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. This shows that they use terrorism and terrorists to further their aims against regional Islamic countries,” an unnamed Iranian Foreign Ministry source told Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
The rally addressed by Prince Turki al-Faisal on Saturday was held by the political wing of the exiled PMOI, which wants to topple the Iran’s clerical leadership who seized power after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Saudi media covered the Prince’s speech widely.
“Your legitimate struggle against the (Iranian) regime will achieve its goal, sooner or later,” Prince Turki, also an ex-ambassador to Washington and London, said in his speech.
“I, too, want the fall of the regime,” he added.
The rally was also attended by a number of Western political figures, including former U.S. House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich.
The burgeoning rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia has long influenced politics and stability in the Gulf region.
Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of supporting the Islamic State and other militant groups in region, a claim which Riyadh denies. The Saudis say Iran is fomenting sectarian violence in the Middle East in a bid to dominate the region.