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TEHRAN — A senior Iranian general said on 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,” the head of the 150,000-strong Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, 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. Over 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. 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,” General Jafari said, according to the semiofficial news agency Tasnim.

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


Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in Tehran in 2011.

Behrouz Mehri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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 companies from the United States, while Iran, largely Shiite, has been increasing its influence over crucial militia groups in several countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

General 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 Shiite and other militias in the region.

General 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.

“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, publicly attacked Saudi Arabia for the first time in a speech recently, naming the country directly and saying that it was as bad as Israel.

General 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,” General 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.”

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