Iran’s supreme leader likens Saudi airstrikes on Yemen to Israel’s bombing of Gaza.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday denounced airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition against Shia rebels in Yemen as “criminal acts.”
“This move is not acceptable in the region and I would warn that they must stop these criminal acts in Yemen,” he said, addressing the Saudi government in a statement on his official website. “The Saudi government must end as soon as possible these catastrophic crimes,” Khamenei said.
The coalition, which includes nine Arab countries, is led by Riyadh with backed by the United States. It launched an aerial offensive on March 26 to counter the advance of the Houthi rebels linked to Iran and allied with forces loyal to Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The rebels have seized large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, and forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee Aden. “What the Saudi government is doing in Yemen resembles exactly what the Zionist regime did in Gaza,” Khamenei said. “This is a massacre, a genocide, and internationally prosecutable,” he said, denouncing the “massacre of children and the destruction of homes, infrastructure and wealth” of Yemen.
“Certainly, the Saudis will suffer damage,” he warned, without elaborating.
Regional rivals Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are also on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, with Tehran backing President Bashar al-Assad and Riyadh supporting the opposition.
“We have differences with the Saudis on various political matters, but we have always said that they demonstrated composure and dignity in their foreign relations,” Khamenei said.
However, he lashed out at what he called “some inexperienced youths” who have taken charge in the desert kingdom and opting for “savagery over composure.”
He also denounced Washington’s support for the coalition, saying that “it is in the nature of the United States to support the aggressor.”
“Their criminal aircraft have made Yemen’s airspace insecure and they don’t call this an intervention. In return, they accuse Iran” of intervening, he added.