IRGC commander denies Trump claim on Saudi missile attack

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari denied that Iran was involved in the Yemeni missile attack on Riyadh.

al-monitor Military commanders observe ballistic missiles during a parade commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 22, 2011. Photo by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images.

Nov 7, 2017

Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has denied claims by President Donald Trump that Iran was responsible for the missile that was launched into Saudi Arabia from Yemen over the weekend. After Saudi Arabia claimed that the Houthis fired a ballistic missile into a heavily populated area for the first time, Trump, while on tour in Asia, said, “A shot was just taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia.”

Jafari said in response to questions by reporters Nov. 5, “Trump has made many unaccountable, false and untrue statements and this is also one of those accusations.” Jafari continued, “Shipping missiles to Yemen is not even possible and these missiles that are being launched belong to Yemen, which are rebuilt and have had their range increased to pursue revenge for the blood of their martyrs.”

When Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), backed by the United States, launched their war on Yemen in 2015, Iranian officials and media became more vocal in their support of the Houthis, who are formally called Ansar Allah and belong to the Zaidi sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

While Jafari denied any involvement in the missile attack, conservative Iranian media appeared to be trying to ratchet up tensions. “Ansar Allah’s missile fires at Riyadh, the next target, Dubai,” was the headline of Kayhan’s top story Nov. 6. The article claimed that the Saudi princes who are currently involved in quarrels over the nation’s wealth will no longer have peace and quiet in their palaces and that the leaders of the UAE have learned they are next.

Trump’s claim that Iran was behind the missile attack on Saudi Arabia is not the only Saudi-related story in Iranian media. The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri over the weekend and the wave of arrests of the Saudi elite in the so-called anti-corruption campaign also received a great deal of traction in Iranian media.

Hariri announced his resignation in Saudi Arabia, and blamed Iran for meddling in Lebanese internal affairs. This brought the following reaction from Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi: “Mr. Hariri’s sudden resignation and from a different country is not only unfortunate and surprising, but it shows that he is playing a game that those who want ill for the region have designed.” He added, “The winner of this game will not be Arab and Islamic countries but the Zionist regime.”

The general consensus in Iran, given the location of Hariri’s resignation announcement, is that Saudi Arabia forced Hariri to cede office. “Hariri’s suicide” was the headline of the conservative Vatan-e Emrooz. “Hariri’s humiliating resignation” was the headline in Kayhan.

The conservative Jahan News wrote that Hariri’s resignation was a Saudi and American attempt to “create a crisis in the region and decrease Iran’s influence.” The article said that after failing in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United States are setting their sights on Lebanon and Iran’s main ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. The article continued that comments by Israeli officials in recent months regarding another Lebanon war must be taken into consideration as part of a wider plot to weaken Hezbollah.

Moreover, in the latest reaction to events in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter, writing, “Visits by [Jared] Kushner & Lebanese PM [to Riyadh] led to Hariri's bizarre resignation while abroad. Of course, Iran is accused of interference,” adding, "[Saudi Arabia] is engaged in wars of aggression, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior & risky provocations. It blames Iran for the consequences."

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