Iran Guards chief accuses Saudi of 'treachery' in Yemen

TEHERAN (AFP) - The commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards accused Saudi Arabia of treachery Monday, saying the bombing of Yemen had put the kingdom in the same camp as arch foe Israel.

The remarks, by General Mohammad Ali Jafari, are a further sign of deteriorating relations between Teheran and Riyadh, after recent heavy criticism by Iran's supreme leader and other top officials.

As the Middle East's foremost Sunni and Shi'ite powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran are increasingly seen as vying for supremacy in the region, which remains beset by conflict and political turmoil.

Jafari urged Iranian officials to put aside past considerations and speak out against the kingdom, following its air strikes in Yemen.

"Today, treacherous Saudi Arabia is stepping in the footsteps of Israel and the Zionists. This wasn't the case in the past and right now the Islamic revolution's opponents are becoming clearer," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

A Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states launched air strikes in Yemen on March 26 against Shi'ite Houthi rebels, which Riyadh accuses Teheran of arming.

The Houthis, who have overrun large parts of Yemen prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh, have demanded an end to the air war as a condition for resuming UN-sponsored peace talks.

Saudi Arabia wants Hadi to return as president, a demand that the Houthis are resisting as they say his government was corrupt.

The United Nations says more than 1,000 people have been killed in fighting in Yemen since March 19.

"Now that these attacks have taken place, reservations should be put aside," Jafari said.

"Today the Saudi dynasty is on the verge of decline and fall," he said, asserting that Iran was in the ascendancy.

"Everyday we are witnessing the strengthening of the Islamic revolution's power and dimensions outside. Enemies and America have submitted to it."

Jafari's comments come after deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia's decision to prevent Iran from delivering humanitarian aid to Yemen "would not be left unanswered".

On April 9, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei too compared Saudi Arabia to Israel.

"What the Saudi government is doing in Yemen resembles exactly what the Zionist regime did in Gaza. This is a massacre, a genocide," he said.

"Certainly, the Saudis will suffer damage," Khamenei warned, without elaborating.

Saudi-led bombing raids continued Sunday, hitting the rebel-held presidential palace in Sanaa and rebel positions in the main southern city of Aden, military sources and witnesses said.

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