Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the US’s fresh sanctions against Iran aim to deflect global attention from the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Riyadh’s crimes in Yemen.
In a post on his official Twitter account on Wednesday, Zarif hit out at the US for imposing sanctions on Iran over allegedly supporting the Taliban, an anti-Iran militant group with which Washington is seeking negotiations.
The US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions against eight individuals, including two allegedly linked to the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and accused Iran of providing material and financial support to the militants and supporting terrorism.
Zarif said the US sanctions meant to protect Saudi Arabia and divert attention from Khashoggi’s murder and Yemen’s war.
“To deflect from headlines on Saudi brutality in Istanbul and across Yemen, US Treasury—while in Saudi Arabia, no less—sanctions Iran for ‘supporting’ anti-Iran Taliban. Conveniently omitting that US is negotiating with the very same Taliban now& its clients have long backed it,” said the tweet.
The world has reacted angrily to the murder of Khashoggi — a Saudi writer, US resident, and Washington Post columnist — amid weeks of repeated denials from Saudi authorities that the kingdom had nothing to do with his disappearance.
Khashoggi, living in exile in the US, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife, but he did not leave the building.
Saudi officials originally insisted that Khashoggi had left the diplomatic mission after his paperwork was finished, but they finally admitted several days later that he had in fact been killed inside the building during “an altercation.”
Several countries, including European ones, Turkey and the US, a major ally of Riyadh, have called for clarifications on the journalist’s murder.
Amid mounting global pressure on the kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday broke his silence and said the case of the slain Saudi journalist was “painful” and justice will prevail.
The controversy over Khashoggi’s death comes as Riyadh continues to pound its impoverished southern neighbor Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement. The war has left more than 15,000 killed and thousands injured.
Iran denies accusations of aiding Taliban in Afghanistan
The allegations of Iran’s support for the Taliban come as Tehran has on numerous occasions denied training or backing the militant group.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has been standing for nearly four decades alongside the friendly and brotherly government and people of Afghanistan to defend their sovereignty and independence, and the statements made to satisfy outsiders and invaders have no congruity with these friendly relations,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said earlier this year.