GENEVA (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday it was “shameful” that U.S. President Donald Trump had pledged support for Saudi Arabia despite the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate.
Trump had issued a statement that began: “The world is a very dangerous place!
“The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more.”
Trump went on to vow to stay a “steadfast partner” of Riyadh despite saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about the plan to murder Khashoggi in Istanbul.
Zarif tweeted that “Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of”.
Zarif also referred to Trump’s unfavorable comparison of forestry management in wildfire-ravaged California and Finland, adding:
“Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests — just like the Finns do?”
Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals and have supported opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and different political factions in Iraq and Lebanon.
But Iran and Hezbollah deny supporting terrorism, Tehran denies arming Yemen’s Houthi militia while accusing Saudi-backed forces of killing civilians there, and Iranian-trained Shi’ite paramilitaries helped Iraq’s government to reverse the Islamic State militant group’s seizure of swathes of Iraqi territory.
When visiting the scene of California’s devastating Camp Fire on Saturday, Trump said Finland had managed to avoid such fires by spending “a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things” to clear forest floors.
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Kevin Liffey)