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Soleimani emerges as unifying figure for Iranians

While Iran's religious and nationalist groups have been at odds over various issues since the 1979 revolution, increasing tensions with Saudi Arabia and wide adoration for Quds Force Cmdr. Qasem Soleimani have largely united the two camps.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani uses a walkie-talkie at the frontline during offensive operations against Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba in Salahuddin province March 8, 2015. Picture taken March 8, 2015.   REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT POLITICS) - RTR4TU0N

During the past few weeks, after the start of Saudi Arabia’s Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, a tense verbal battle broke out between the Iranian diplomats and generals and their Saudi counterparts. Each side accused the other of stirring unrest in the Middle East. This ongoing tension between Tehran and Riyadh has had undeniable effects on Iranian society, especially its middle class and more secular populace.

Now there are reports that two Iranian teenage boys on a pilgrimage tour to Saudi Arabia were assaulted by Saudi security guards. If previously only the very religious Iranians were hostile toward the Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia, after this incident, the more secular and nationalist Iranians have also joined the anti-Saudi chorus in Iran, expressing their anger against the country.

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