Skip to main content

Iran’s FM says Qatar 'brought Saudi Arabia to its knees'

Iran’s foreign minister slams the Saudi crown prince over his approach to foreign policy in a speech at a top Tehran university.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool? - UP1EE1A1NCZOZ

Addressing a conference at the prestigious Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran’s foreign minister slammed the Saudi crown prince as “simple-minded” over his approach and rhetoric toward the Islamic Republic.

In a ceremony May 1 to commemorate Professors’ Day at the university, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke about current developments in the world and in the region. As he entered the university's premises, a group of students believed to belong to the Basij association on campus held signs with slogans against the nuclear deal and the Foreign Ministry’s emphasis on constructive engagement with the world. According to local media, a number of the students attacked Zarif’s vehicle, punching and kicking it.

In reference to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Zarif stated, “The young, simple-minded Saudi comes and says, ‘We aren’t afraid of Iran, [and] Iran is the fifth military power of the Islamic world.’ Now I wonder if this is true, then why are they moaning and shouting [about Iran] this much?”

Zarif continued, “In the past year, Saudi Arabia was the third in the world in terms of buying weapons. They spent $67 billion, and this amount of arms purchases indicates how worried they are. They are acknowledging that they aren’t able to resist Iran, because the sources of power have changed. They aren’t even able to overcome Qatar. Qatar has brought Saudi Arabia to its knees, because the sources of power and the tools for reaching power have changed.”

In 2017, Saudi Arabia along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the peninsula nation.

Zarif said, “We are different from the other regional countries. Our development and progress is indigenous. Mr. [US President Donald] Trump can’t tell us, ‘If I don’t support you for two weeks, you are going to be toppled.’ When Trump said this to a number of countries in the region, the Saudi foreign minister [Adel al-Jubeir] stated that ‘if America stops supporting Qatar for one week, this country would face a problem’ — [he said this] in order to say that Trump didn’t mean [Saudi Arabia].”

The Iranian foreign minister then urged media outlets in Iran to act in line with the national interest in an implicit reference to the hard-liners. “We shouldn’t [let] a number of media [outlets] destroy our people’s self-confidence every day. We should provide hope and self-confidence to the people. We should tell [our people] that Mr. Trump has been saying for two years, ‘I will kill the JCPOA’ [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. During the presidential campaign, he repeatedly emphasized that ‘the first thing I will do will be to kill the JCPOA.’ But it has now been two years and he hasn’t been able to do this,” Zarif said.

Addressing hard-liners and domestic critics of the nuclear deal, the top Iranian diplomat stated, “Why do you tell the people, ‘What madman is willing to come to Iran to invest?’ Why do you prepare the ground for capital flight? Why don’t you give the people self-confidence? What are the uses and values of this domestic political infighting?”

Of note, hard-line media outlets have consistently engaged in negative reporting on the nuclear deal, consistently pointing out that the promised economic dividends of the accord have not materialized in any way.

Zarif then directly addressed his critics, saying, “Our country finds itself in a special situation. Why don’t you trust your diplomats and say that a certain diplomat [Zarif] has been deceived, while Mr. Trump and Mr. [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu say that it was America that was deceived in the [nuclear] negotiations, and that it was Iran that profited [from the nuclear deal]?”

The JCPOA was signed in July 2015, following two years of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany).

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Gulf Briefing Gulf Briefing

Gulf Briefing

Top GCC stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial