Sunday, 23 February, 2020

Iran’s Zarif hits back at Saudi official over ‘normal state’ remarks

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed a senior Saudi Foreign Ministry official for making remarks against the Islamic Republic, saying a “normal” country does not refuse to talk.

Zarif took to his official Twitter account on Friday to give response to Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir who told CNBC on Thursday that a restoration of ties with Iran will be possible when Iran “returns to a normal state.”

Speaking at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland, Jubeir accused Iran of “meddling” in Iraq’s internal affairs and said, “The Iranians have to show good faith, the Iranians have to change their behavior and their policies.”

In his tweet, Zarif said Saudi Arabia cannot be called a “normal” country when it caused a humanitarian crisis in Yemen and killed its dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey.

“‘Normal’ countries don’t operate abattoirs disguised as consulates. ‘Normal’ countries don’t attack their neighbors, cause a humanitarian crisis, and refuse to talk,” he said.

However, the top Iranian diplomat said Tehran was ready for talks without any preconditions.

“Nonetheless, WE don’t set preconditions for dialog,” he pointed out.

Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was killed after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad.

The Saudi government initially claimed Khashoggi left the consulate on that day, but Riyadh later said that, after a thorough investigation into the case, it had reached the conclusion that he had been killed by a “rogue” group and not by direct order from the crown prince, who is seen as the de facto ruler of the Arab kingdom.

The Washington Post reported in November 2018 that the CIA had concluded that bin Salman had ordered the killing. Furthermore, an investigative team led by the United Nations also said it believed MbS was the prime suspect in the state-sponsored murder. Washington has refused to formally implicate Mohammed, however.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

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