Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Monday conveyed statements from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warning Tehran’s neighbors that they would have to pay a “high price” for supporting forces throughout the region aligned against the Islamic republic:
“Unfortunately, some regional countries do not take heed of the danger of Takfiri groups which will threaten them in future and they are still backing these groups,” the leader’s website khamenei.ir reported.
Takfiri is a synonymous term Iranian officials use for Sunni extremists.
“Some of the regional countries are backing the Takfiri groups and supporting their massacres and crimes in Syria,” said Khamenei.
“Eventually these countries will be forced to eradicate these extremists, with a high price,” Khamenei added.
The wire somewhat archly noted that Khamenei’s comments came “during a meeting with the visiting Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah whose trip to Tehran has been widely seen as an attempt to warm up the frosty ties between Iran and Sunni-ruled monarchies in the Gulf.”
The comments will be read in the context of what is increasingly taken as a ‘new normal’ in the Middle East: a Shiite crescent stretching in the north from the Levant to Iran, a de facto Israeli-Sunni camp across the Gulf and North Africa, and a Turkish/Qatari/Muslim Brotherhood axis. The hardening divisions have been seen as raising geopolitical stakes across the region.
Among other things, Arab states have among other things been explicit that they will seek nuclear capabilities should they conclude that the international community is insufficiently constraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan over the weekend emphasized that Arab-Iranian tensions in fact extend beyond the nuclear issue:
Regional differences with Iran are not only about Tehran’s nuclear program but also with other issues agitating its neighbors, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan said on Saturday during his German counterpart’s visit to the capital Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh al-Nahyan said issues with the Islamic Republic stem from its “interference” with the affairs of neighboring Arab countries.
Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have for years been demanding that the Islamic republic roll back efforts they insist are aimed at undermining their internal stability.
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