Iran a growing concern in Saudi Arabia

Dec. 22, 2006 at 10:13 AM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Concern has become widespread in Saudi Arabia about the growing power of Iran and what steps the country is willing to take to curb it.

Religious and political leaders have increasingly been raising the possibility that Iran could become a superpower in the region and pose a threat to the kingdom, the International Herald Tribune reported Friday.

"Iran has become more dangerous than Israel itself," said Sheik Musa bin Abdulaziz, editor of Al Salafi magazine, who describes himself a moderate in the Salafi fundamentalist Muslim movement. "The Iranian revolution has come to renew the Persian presence in the region. This is the real clash of civilizations."

Nawaf Obeid, a Saudi security consultant, was fired from his position in the government after writing an op-ed article in The Washington Post that said Saudi Arabia would intervene in Iraq "to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis."

The International Herald Tribune said the debate over how best to respond to Iran's growing influence is thought by some to have led to the resignation of Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal. Saudi officials said Turki had lobbied Washington to pursue a policy that avoids military confrontation with Iran.

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