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Arab League Says Iran Undermining Regional Stability

  • RFE/RL

UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on January 10.

UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on January 10.

Foreign ministers from countries in the Arab League have condemned Iran for what they say is meddling in Arab affairs and undermining regional stability.

At an Arab League meeting in Cairo on January 10, the ministers accused Shi'ite-ruled Iran of breaking international agreements by intentionally failing to protect Saudi Arabia's diplomatic posts in Tehran.

Lebanon, which has a large Shi'ite population and is home to the Shi'ite militant Hizballah group, was the only dissenting voice.

There was no mention of concrete punitive measures against Iran in the Arab League statement.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran after Iranian protesters on January 2, angered by Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric, stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on January 10 accused Riyadh of using the escalating row to derail Syrian peace talks.

"Saudi Arabia's approach is to create tension intended to negatively affect the Syrian crisis," Zarif said in a statement.

But the United Nations Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said at the end of a January 10 visit to Tehran that Zarif assured him Iran would not allow the dispute to have a negative impact on Syrian peace talks set to begin on January 25.

Zarif's remarks came one day after the six foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held an extraordinary meeting in Riyadh on January 9 to discuss growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and predominantly Shi'ite Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s partners in the GCC-- Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman -- expressed support for Riyadh in its diplomatic row with Iran, condemning what they described as Iranian interference in Riyadh's internal affairs.

In a statement, the six countries "strongly denounced" the sacking of the Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran by demonstrators angered over its execution of the Shi'ite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.

They stated that Tehran "carries the responsibility for these terrorist acts."

Saudi Arabia also accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and warned that the kingdom was considering new steps against Tehran.

Iranian officials fiercely criticized the kingdom's authorities for the execution, and an Iranian mob stormed the Saudi Embassy and consulate in Tehran in protest.

Along with, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain also severed diplomatic relations with Tehran while Kuwait and Qatar recalled their ambassadors, and the U.A.E. downgraded its ties.

Meanwhile, Tehran cut all commercial ties with Riyadh.

Iran has blamed Saudi Arabia for the diplomatic crisis and accused the kingdom of "sectarian hate-mongering."

In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on January 8, Zarif said Riyadh must choose between promoting extremism and fostering good relations in the Middle East.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and BBC
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