TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American political analyst said the triangle of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US was behind the recent terrorist attack in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz, adding that Saudi Arabia has been consistently involved in providing support for terrorist activities across the region.
“It is quite likely that the perpetrators of the attack have received support from Saudi Arabia. This would certainly be in keeping with Saudi Arabia’s past history in the region,” Keith Preston, the chief editor and director of attackthesystem.com, told Tasnim in an interview.
He added, “A likely strategy that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pursuing is to increase the hostilities toward Iran to the point that the United States will engage in military intervention against Iran, and on behalf of the (Persian) Gulf states.”
The following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: As you know, 25 people were killed and dozens of others injured after unknown terrorists opened fire at a military parade in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz on Saturday. What are your thoughts on the attack?
Preston: The first question that emerges as a result of the attack obviously involves the matter of what party is responsible. So far, multiple groups have claimed responsibility. Daesh posted an online video claiming responsibility for the attack. However, Daesh has a history of claiming responsibility for terror attacks in which they were actually not involved, so their credibility is strained at this point. The al-Ahvaziya group has also claimed responsibility as has the Ahvaz National Resistance and both of these are plausible suspects. At present, it has yet to be determined which party is actually responsible. However, the government of Iran has said to have arrested multiple individuals that are suspected of involvement in the attack, and more information may be forthcoming in the future. Meanwhile, the leadership of the (Islamic) Revolutionary Guards (Corps) has suggested that international enemies of Iran may have been complicit in the attack, which is also certainly plausible, but the evidence for this claim has yet to be revealed on a level where complicity can be fully substantiated. It is most likely that one of the terror groups that claim to represent separatist tendencies in Ahvaz is responsible, and it is also likely the responsible party was receiving support from international forces as well.
Tasnim: According to media reports and as you mentioned, the al-Ahvaziya terror group, whose recruits are believed to be scattered in several European countries, including in the Netherlands and in Denmark, claimed responsibility for the attack in Ahvaz. The terror outfit, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, has a record of carrying out sabotage acts in Iran’s Khuzestan province, which encompasses Ahvaz and some other Arab-dominated towns. How do you see the role of Riyadh in the attack?
Preston: It is quite likely that the perpetrators of the attack have received support from Saudi Arabia. This would certainly be in keeping with Saudi Arabia’s past history in the region. Saudi Arabia has been consistently involved in providing support for terrorist activities in various locations in the Middle East, and (it) is well known that many of the Sunni jihadi groups receive substantial support from Saudi Arabia and other (Persian) Gulf States. Given the present conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen, and against the Shiite people of the Eastern Province, it is quite likely that Saudi Arabia would be motivated to back a terror attack in Iran in order to create domestic instability and chaos inside Iran. While Saudi involvement in the attack has yet to be fully substantiated, in all probability the responsible parties have likely received support from Saudi Arabia at some point.
Tasnim: Following the attack on Saturday, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an adviser to the Abu Dhabi government, justified the attack on Twitter, claiming that it was not a terrorist attack and that “moving the battle to the Iranian side is a declared option”. “Attacks of this kind will increase during the next phase,” he said. What do you think?
Preston: The statement from Abdulkhaleq Abdulla could be interpreted in two ways. On one hand, it is possible that he was simply expressing his own personal sympathies for those who carried out the attack, and that there is no specific context to his statement of a wider nature. However, the statement is very suspicious as it seems to indicate that Abdulkhaleq Abdulla is aware of organized efforts to continue to carry out such attacks against Iranian targets in the future. If the latter is true, it would essentially mean two things. First, that the government of the United Arab Emirates was involved in the attacks, which would also mean that Saudi Arabia was involved as well. Second, it would mean that the Saudi/UAE-led coalition that is currently waging war in Yemen wishes to escalate the war by engaging in direct attacks against Iranian targets for the purpose of attempting to destabilize Iran, and lure Iran into a wider regional conflict that might also include the intervention of the United States on behalf of the (Persian) Gulf nations.
Tasnim: Reports suggest that US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were behind the attacks. Do you believe so?
Preston: Mohammed bin Salman has in the past expressed his intention of escalating the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia by taking the conflict “inside Iran,” as he has previously stated. Given this past statement, it is certainly likely that Saudi Arabia was involved in the attack. Similar statements coming from the UAE indicate the involvement of Abu Dhabi as well. A likely strategy that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pursuing is to increase the hostilities toward Iran to the point that the United States will engage in military intervention against Iran, and on behalf of the (Persian) Gulf states. It is also interesting that the attack in Ahvaz has occurred now that Mike Pompeo, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States has become the Secretary of State, and John Bolton has become National Security Adviser. Both Pompeo and Bolton have been closely associated with America’s “neoconservative” foreign policy faction, which has long advocated for “regime change,” or a war of aggression against Iran. Therefore, it is certainly possible that Pompeo and Bolton have signaled their support for Saudi and UAE efforts to escalation hostilities with Iran, including the backing of terror attacks such as Ahvaz, for the purpose of creating a pretext for US military intervention in the region against Iran.