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Iranian general says Saudi Arabia will soon be toppled

TEHRAN — A senior Iranian general said Monday that the leadership of Saudi Arabia, a regional rival, was on the edge of collapse and would be toppled soon, “God willing.”

Saudi-led bombardments on Yemen are “shameless and rude and an affront to all Islamic values,” General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of the 150,000-strong Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said during a speech in Tehran.

Last week, Saudi Arabia announced a halt to its operations in Yemen, which started a month ago, only to restart bombing a day later. More than 1,000 people have been killed after the Houthi rebels, who are financially supported by Iran, swept through Yemen, taking advantage of years of infighting among Sunni leaders.

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A coalition of Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, is trying to push the Houthis back using airstrikes.

“The traitor Saudi Arabia is following the path of Israel,” Jafari said, according to the semiofficial news agency Tasnim.

“Saudi Arabia is bombarding this country without any coordination with international bodies,” he added. “We can no longer stay silent.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia have had long-simmering tensions over influence in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, predominantly Sunni, has been stocking up on weaponry sold mostly by US companies, while Iran, largely Shi’ite, has been increasing its influence over crucial militia groups in several countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

Jafari predicted that Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen would backfire. The general is officially in charge of protecting Iran’s revolution and leadership, and of directing the regional efforts of the elite Quds force, the unit involved in supporting, advising and, some say, leading Shi’ite and other militias in the region.

Jafari also commented on Iran’s rising power in the region, saying that “with the passing of time, all the tricks of the Islamic republic’s enemies are deciphered.” Iran’s ideology prescribes an export of the revolution, the general said.

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“The final cause and goal of the Islamic Revolution is creating an Islamic civilization,” he said. “And we do our best to develop in the path of creating Islamic civilization.”

In a sign of deteriorating relations, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attacked Saudi Arabia for the first time in a speech recently, naming the country and saying that it was as bad as Israel.

Jafari joined other Iranian officials in predicting that the Saudi leadership would be toppled by a popular uprising.

“The House of Saud is on the edge of disintegration and collapse,” Jafari said, referring to the Saudi royal family. “Regional and international analysts have talked about it a lot, and we hope that it will come true.”

In Syria on Monday, Islamic insurgents overran a military base at a former factory in the northwestern part of the country on Monday, carting off tanks and other weapons in the latest blow to President Bashar Assad’s forces in the region, the Associated Press reported, citing activists.

The opposition offensive in Idlib province has captured the provincial capital, a strategic town, as well as villages and military bases since it began last month. An array of anti-Assad armed factions from across the ideological spectrum has demonstrated a degree of sustained coordination previously unseen in northern Syria, contributing to the campaign’s success.

The fall of the base is the latest in a string of defeats for Assad’s forces in Idlib. Government troops already have been pushed out of the city as well as the town of Jisr al-Shughour.

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