James Tweedie writes:
ARAB League foreign ministers held an extraordinary meeting with a single agenda item — condemnation of the ransacking of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic mission in Iran and Tehran’s “meddling” in Arab affairs.
Saudi Arabia was expected to garner the support of 18 members of the 22-nation bloc, in which Syria has been represented by the opposition Syrian National Coalition since 2011.
The attack on the embassy followed Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shi’ite preacher and critic of the Saudi monarchy Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Tehran condemned the assault, but the communist Tudeh Party of Iran blamed it on elements linked to the powerful Revolutionary Guard, the paramilitary Basij militia and security forces.
And the party warned that diplomatic rows between Tehran and Riyadh were aimed at derailing Syrian peace talks and that both were determined to see the Syrian civil war pursued to the bitter end.
“The Middle East is like a barrel of gunpowder that in the event of any new military conflict could lead to a blood-and-fire catastrophe for its already hard-hit people,” said Tudeh international secretary Navid Shomali.
Tehran and Riyadh support opposing sides in the wars in Iranian ally Syria and Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour Yemen.
On Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem declared his government’s willingness to abide by the unanimous December 18 UN security council resolution calling for peace between Damascus and the “moderate” opposition.
But Mr Shomali said that there were those on both sides who wanted to scupper the deal.
He drew attention to a visit to Riyadh by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — a leading proponent of regime change in Syria — days before Mr Nimr’s beheading.
– The US released a video on Saturday which it claimed showed Iranian Revolutionary Guards firing rockets dangerously close to shipping in the Persian Gulf.
The same day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote to the secretaries-general of the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, warning that Saudi Arabia was trying to drag the whole region into conflict.