Saudi Arabia says it rejects Iran-backed terrorist cell

Saudi Arabia said it has demolished a terrorist cell with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the latest sign of heightened tensions in the Middle East as two long-term rivals compete for regional supremacy.

The Saudi National Security Agency said Saudi security forces arrested 10 people on 23 September, three of whom said it had received military training and instruction in bomb-making in late 2017, which related to guards in Iran Hai, the Saudi National Security Agency said late Monday. It did not identify the suspects, citing continued investigations.

The agency, known as the State Security Presidency, said it had seized fuses, chemicals and electronics used in bomb-making as well as nine improvised explosive devices and more than five kilograms of ammo. Photographs published in the Saudi media showed a cache of weapons, including assault rifles, scopes and thousands of rounds of ammunition, as well as military uniforms and a farm seized and used as storage sites.

Iran did not comment on the arrest.

Neil Quilliam, senior research fellow at Britain’s Chatham House think tank, said Iran remains a threat to stability in the Persian Gulf, which will be repeated often before the US presidential elections and Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the G20 summit. in November.

“It certainly fits with a new and bold pattern of Saudi messaging against Iran, which aims to attract international attention against Tehran’s own neighbors,” he said.

President Trump recently signed the Middle East Peace Agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press

The announcement follows an UN address in which Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called for expansionist activities in the region over Iran. Saudi Arabia, a US ally, accepted the 2015 nuclear deal that six world powers collided with Iran but was quick to support President Trump’s decision to leave it.

“The king welcomed international efforts to deal with Iran’s nuclear program, but time and again, the whole world saw how the Iranian regime intensified its expansionist activities, built its terrorist networks and used terrorism Took advantage of these efforts. ” In a UN address, which took place on 23 September.

“Our experience with the Iranian regime has taught us that partial reconciliation and appeasement did not prevent its threats to international peace and security,” he said.

The power struggle between Riyadh and Tehran – the two main powerhouses in the turbulent Middle East against a changing geopolitical backdrop. The recent normalization of relations between Israel and the two Arab Gulf states — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — helped strengthen anti-Iranian alliances. Saudi Arabia has come under pressure to follow suit, but tensions over the ruling family suggest such an innings will be turbulent.

Iran condemned US-brokers’ diplomatic allegations. The guard, designated last year by the Trump administration as a foreign terrorist organization, warned that it would hold Arab states accountable for any Israeli incursions into the region, which would be met with vengeance.

Tensions escalated last year after a series of attacks against oil sites in Saudi Arabia and tankers in Gulf waters. Riyadh and Washington accused Tehran of assault, which denied responsibility.

The two countries support rival parties in conflicts across the region, including Saudi Arabia’s southern border in Yemen, where the state five years ago after Iran seized the capital by Houthi rebels aligned and ousted an internationally recognized government Intervened more militarily.

Iran says Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim empire, has supported extremist groups such as the Islamic State and disgruntled groups have bent on overthrowing Iran’s Shia clerical regime. The rivalry has overtaken the Middle East.

A Danish court this year sentenced a Norwegian-Iranian man to seven years in prison on charges of espionage and suspected ties with Saudi Arabia for plotting to murder an Iranian dissident. Dissatisfied for spying for Saudi Arabia in Denmark is facing trial in Denmark.

In 2013 a US federal court sentenced an Iranian used car salesman to 25 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to murder the Saudi ambassador at an American restaurant in Washington, DC.

Increasing tensions between Iran and the Gulf Arab states recently spread to Saudi Arabia’s smaller neighbor, Bahrain. This month Bahrain’s interior ministry confirmed a local media report that it thwarted the attack early in the year. A statement from the ministry gave some information and said that a court is investigating.

The newspaper Al-Khaleej reported earlier that a guard-backed group named Qasim Soleimani Brigade plans to target the public and security infrastructure in the small island nation for the Iranian commander killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January. Was made .

Iran has not commented on Bahrain’s statement.

Following King Salman’s speech at the U.N., a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said that Saudi Arabian rulers had “raved” due to repeated shocks in Yemen, according to the paramilitary Mehr news agency.

Write Stephen Kalin at [email protected] and Sune Engel Rasmussen at [email protected]

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