Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened to “punch” in the “mouth” any countries that stand in the way of “completely Islamic” change as the rift between Iran and its neighbors grows wider.
Washington is trying to step carefully around the Saudi executions that have touched off a storm between the kingdom and Iran.
Pro-regime protesters in Iran broke into the Saudi embassy setting fires and looting — one posted a selfie with the telephone he stole — after Riyadh executed an opposition Shiite cleric.
“Doubtlessly, unfairly-spilled blood of oppressed martyr
#SheikhNimr will affect rapidly & Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted on Sunday. “The only act of #SheikhNimr was outspoken criticism and he promoted virtue and prohibited vice which was due to his religious zeal. #SheikhNimr’s martyrdom & unfair bloodshed is Saudi govt’s political mistake. Islamic world & whole world must be concerned about the crime.”
“Saudi army’s oppressing of Bahrainis & destruction of their homes & months of bombing of Yemenis are other cases of Saudi regime’s crimes,” the supreme leader continued. “Surely, martyr
#SheikhNimr will be graced by God & no doubt Divine revenge will seize oppressors who killed him & it is the point of relief.”
Not only is Saudi Arabia expelling Iranian diplomats from the kingdom, but all commercial ties will be severed and citizens will be banned from traveling to Iran. Bahrain and Sudan have also cut diplomatic ties with Iran, and the United Arab Emirates downgraded its ties due to “Iran’s continued interference in the Gulf and Arab countries internal affairs.”
The State Department said Saturday that the U.S. was aware of the Saudi government’s execution of 47 people.
“We have previously expressed our concerns about the legal process in Saudi Arabia and have frequently raised these concerns at high levels of the Saudi Government. We reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases,” press secretary John Kirby said in a statement. “The United States also urges the Government of Saudi Arabia to permit peaceful expression of dissent and to work together with all community leaders to defuse tensions in the wake of these executions.”
Sheikh Nimr was sentenced to death in 2014 of seeking “foreign meddling” in the kingdom and taking up arms against it.
“We are particularly concerned that the execution of prominent Shia cleric and political activist Nimr al-Nimr risks exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced,” Kirby said. “In this context, we reiterate the need for leaders throughout the region to redouble efforts aimed at de-escalating regional tensions.”
The tensions come at a time when Iran is bristling at the U.S. for weighing sanctions over Tehran’s ballistic missile test violations. Iran’s president ordered his defense department to step up the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program in response to a report last week that the Treasury Department is preparing sanctions in response to two illegal missile tests.
The White House then said that those sanctions were delayed because the administration needed more time to work on them. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes dismissed suggestions that it was pressure from Tehran that made the administration back down, telling reporters Saturday “we have additional work that needs to be done before we would announce additional designations, but this is not something that we would negotiate with the Iranian government.”
In his Friday sermon, Khamenei noted that “Americans have invested much hope” in next month’s Assembly of Experts and Majlis elections as “they pursue change in Iran.”
“We are also seeking change, change for becoming completely Islamic & attaining the objectives Prophet Muhammad has depicted,” the supreme leader said in comments about relations with the United States that were tweeted in English today. “Iranian nation must act against enemy’s will and punch at enemy’s mouth.”
“A widespread front is active against the Islamic Revolution. Because they feel danger. Because Islamic thoughts have gone beyond Iran.”