In remarks broadcast on state television, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated on Monday long-standing calls for the US to “leave” the Middle East and said any power seeking to challenge Iran would be defeated.
“One of the ways to confront Iran is to provoke inexperienced rulers of the region,” Khamenei said, in an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Americans are trying to provoke Saudi Arabia against Tehran… Their aim is to create more regional crisis … to push Muslims to fight against Muslims.
“If these governments gain more wisdom, they will not confront Iran. If they confront Iran, they will be defeated.”
Khamenei said Iran had no intention of limiting its influence in the Middle East. “Americans are the ones who should leave… The Middle East, the west of Asia and the Persian Gulf is our home.”
Tehran and Riyadh have long been locked in a proxy war, competing for regional supremacy from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon to Yemen. US President Donald Trump has strongly backed Saudi Arabia in its efforts to counter Iran’s influence.
Iranian state TV quoted Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying Tehran would keep on backing its friends in the region despite US pressure to curb its influence.
“The cooperation between America and Saudi Arabia will further destabilise the Middle East and will lead to more crisis in the region,” Qasemi said.
“As long as the legitimate governments of the regional countries need our help, Iran will remain in those countries.”
Iranian officials on Monday reiterated that Tehran had no intention of suspending its defensive missile capability.
“By accusing Iran, Americans want to justify their presence in the region and to sell weapons to the regional countries,” Tasnim news agency quoted deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami as saying.