Saudi royal joins Iranian opposition meeting in Paris
PARIS – Anadolu AgencySaudi Arabian prince and former spy head Turki al-Faisal attended a meeting in Paris which was held by a Paris-based Iranian opposition movement, eliciting criticism from Iran toward Riyadh.
Speaking on July 9, al-Faisal blamed the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution – Ayatollah Khomeini – and the Iranian government which followed him of spreading revolution to other parts of the world.
Al-Faisal is a former director general of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency and head of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.
Claiming that Iran followed an isolationist policy after the revolution, al-Faisal said not only political activists but also ethnic and religious minorities were against authoritarianism and totalitarian ideology.
“Khomeini’s first victims were the Iranian people,” al-Faisal said, adding that Arabs had always been respectful of Iranian people.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group in exile, also spoke at the gathering.
Rajavi said the effect and the number of people resisting the Iranian regime were increasing every day.
Meanwhile, Iran accused Saudi Arabia July 10 of backing terrorism over al-Faisal’s remarks at the rally.
Shiite Muslim power Iran and Saudi Arabia, bastion of Sunni Islam, are longstanding religious and political arch rivals. Relations are fraught as they back each other’s foes in regional wars such as in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
“The Saudis are resorting to well-known terrorists ... as they have also done in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. This shows that they use terrorism and terrorists to further their aims against regional Islamic countries,” an unnamed Iranian Foreign Ministry source was quoted by Iran’s state news agency IRNA as saying, as reported by Reuters.
The rally addressed by al-Faisal was held by the political wing of the exiled People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI), which seeks the overthrow of Iran’s clerical leadership established by the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Saudi media gave top coverage to the speech. The rally was also attended by a number of Western political figures, including former U.S. House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich.