The Iranian supreme leader’s top military adviser, Yahya Rahim Safavi, has threatened Saudi Arabia with “a barrage of missiles.”
“If Saudis dare to attack Iran, the royal palaces in Riyadh will be immediately showered with 1,000 missiles,” said Safavi, former chief-commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), in response to a question concerning a possible Saudi attack against Iran.
Speaking to a military audience in the city of Shiraz, Safavi said on June 24 that Iran is the number one power in the whole region and none of the regional problems could be tackled without Iran’s involvement.
Describing Iran as the most powerful military force in the region, Safavi seized the chance to threaten Israel, as well. “Lebanese Hezbollah, armed with 80,000 rockets, has turned into a permanent threat for the Zionists (Israel),” he said.
Days earlier, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Khatam ol-Anbiya Air Defense Base, Alireza Sabbahi-Fard, had said, “We promise that our forces, armed with the best equipment, will not allow the enemies of the Islamic Republic to do any meddling and will not compromise the [Islamic] Revolution’s causes to the last drop of their blood.”
Sabbahi-Fard’s remarks came after the chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, underlined that his forces would respond to any threat or aggression from enemies, the state-run Mehr News Agency reported.
Tehran and Riyadh have repeatedly threatened each other with military strikes in recent years.
In response to an incident in 2015 in Mecca in which hundreds of Iranian pilgrims were crushed in a stampede, Khamenei warned, “If Iran decided to react, it would be a rough and harsh one.”
Retaliating against Khamenei’s threats, Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Muhammad Bin Salman told the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation that “since Iran is seeking dominance over the Islamic countries, there is no possibility for negotiating with Tehran.”
“Riyadh will not wait to engage in a war inside Saudi Arabia, but, it will attempt to take the war into Iran,” he added.
Saudi officials have accused Iran of inciting violence across the region and even pointed to the possibility of engaging in military confrontation against the country. Iran has repeatedly dismissed the allegations.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on March 29, bin Salman warned that Saudi Arabia may engage in a war against Iran in the future if tougher international sanctions are not imposed against Iran.
Iran’s defense minister, for his part, threatened Riyadh on May 7, by saying, “If they do that [take the war into Iranian territory], the whole of Saudi Arabia, save Mecca and Medina, will be demolished.”
Pointing to the importance of the region to the world, Safavi also said on June 24, “Major powers beyond the region are in a strategic and geopolitical competition for Western Asia, and it is expected that it will be the most volatile region for the next 12 years.”
Meanwhile, he said that the United States and Israel are in “a weaker position” than 10 years ago as shown by their failure to topple the Syrian government.
Following the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, Tehran-Riyadh relation have been further strained.
Tehran has openly helped the Syrian government in its fight against insurgents, while Riyadh supports some of the anti-Assad forces.
Meanwhile in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition waging war against Houthi rebels since 2015.
Riyadh accuses Tehran of sponsoring Yemen’s Houthi movement, but Iran has repeatedly rejected the claim.