Despite accusations from the part of Washington and Riyadh, the foreign ministry of Iran categorically denied any plan for attacking Saudi Arabia or Iraq.
This Wednesday, the spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, said in a statement that the Islamic Republic has no plan whatsoever for attacking Saudi Arabia or Iraq.
Amid civil unrest inside Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, the Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia had shared intelligence with Washington indicating “an imminent attack from Iran, putting the American military and others in the Middle East on an elevated alert level”. Saudi officials said their intelligence showed Iran is poised to carry out attacks on both the kingdom and Erbil, Iraq, and the White House said the Saudi information was worrisome.
Asked about the WSJ report later Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said he would not talk about specific force protection levels but that U.S. officials “do remain concerned about the threat situation in the region.”
“We’re in regular contact with our Saudi partners in terms of what information they may have to provide on that front,” Ryder told reporters. “But what we’ve said before, and I’ll repeat it, is that we will reserve the right to protect and defend ourselves no matter where our forces are serving, whether in Iraq or elsewhere.”
Describing the accusations as “baseless”, however, Kanaani explained that Iran is rather trying to build constructive relations with its Middle East neighbors and has been engaged in positive diplomacy with them.
White House officials declined to respond specifically to Tehran’s remarks Wednesday. Worried about any potential provocative move from the part of Iran, however, U.S. Central Command advertised in a tweet Wednesday that F-22 jets, the most capable air-to-air fighter in the U.S. Air Force inventory, and F-15E warplanes are now stationed in the region.
Where did the conflict begin?
It was this Monday that Iran formally accused Iran International Newsroom, which is funded by Saudi Arabia, of adding fuel to the fire of protests over Mahsa Amini’s death by addressing too much of what is happening inside Iran.
In this regard, Kanaani appeared in a news conference and called Iran International’s coverage of events “similar to a terrorist media”, promising to follow up the issue through legal and diplomatic channels. He also described Iran International as “a war room” and an “operations room against the nation of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Kanaani insinuated that Iran International belongs to Saudi Arabia and that Tehran has complained to Riyadh about the network in the past.
Since the start of the protests in Iran last month, Iranian authorities have been blaming Saudi Arabia, along with the U.S. and Israel, for instigating the demonstrations.
On Wednesday, for example, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed foreign powers for the protests, without mentioning Saudi Arabia. He referred to a memo made public by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Intelligence Ministry that asserted Western intelligence services were responsible for the protests.
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