Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in a struggle for influence across the region
Dubai: Iran’s foreign ministry said the country was not linked to a group of alleged spies arrested in Saudi Arabia, Iranian media reported on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that it had detained an Iranian, a Lebanese, and 16 Saudis for spying. Political analysts and press in Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the alleged espionage. The two countries are locked in a struggle for influence across the region, backing opposing sides in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
Gulf Arab foreign ministers, meeting in Riyadh last month, issued a statement condemning what they said was Iranian “meddling” in their countries — an accusation Tehran rejects. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, denied that an Iranian national was involved in the alleged spy ring and called the allegations a “repetitive scenario”, according to Iran’s English-language Press TV on Sunday.
“Raising such baseless issues at the media level is merely for domestic consumption,” he said, according to Press TV.Leaders of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority have also criticised the arrests of 16 members of their community, which they said sought to exploit sectarian tension. The Saudi government has previously blamed unrest among Shiites in the Qatif district of the oil-producing Eastern Province on an unnamed foreign power, which officials privately acknowledge means Iran — a charge local Shiite activists have denied.
Sixteen people have been killed in Qatif in clashes with police in the past two years.